Journalism: the Last Bastion of Unapologetic Irony

This article about looking for the elusive Austin Yellow Bikes would have been a whole lot more compelling if the guy had, instead of spending “three-plus hours last week and a modest amount of the Austin American-Statesman’s mileage budget,” actually spent his time on a bike riding around downtown talking to people about the Yellow Bike project.

I could care less about the Yellow Bike project, of course. Austin, like all Texas cities, is an absolutely suicidal place to ride a bicycle. But I do respect the idea of attempting to reach saturation with a resource like bicycles. I’ve attempted the same thing with pens–buying dozens and dozens and leaving them everywhere in an attempt to always have one at hand. The lesson I’ve learned is that the numbers required for this to work are always much greater than any reasonable estimate you can come up with. Based on my pen experiments, I estimate that to succeed the Yellow Bike project will have to infuse Austin with approximately 18 million bicycles.

2 thoughts on “Journalism: the Last Bastion of Unapologetic Irony”

  1. there’s one hanging from the ceiling of a guy named jonathan grubb in south austin. he, of course, rides his own bike.

    i’m not even going to ask why you’re reading the statesman.

  2. A bike for a bike. Very crypto-karma-biblical.

    I’m not reading the statesman per se, but robotwisdom linked to it.

    I will give this article credit for bringing up the central tragedy-of-the-commons problem with free bikes: who fixes the flats? Forget that the average 10 year old should be able to do this with a popsicle stick and 12″ of electrical tape. Forget that viable flat-proof bicycle tires have been around for 25 years. Forget that bicycles are among the simplest and most robust mechanisms we deal with in our daily lives. It remains a fact that even a stable dynamic system requires constant input.

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