The big problem with share bikes

The big problem with share bikes, by Caroline Overington.

The point of this article is to marvel at how superbly the share bike illustrates the age-old debate over capitalism v socialism.

What drives human beings? Is it predominantly self-interest? Or is it the common good? …

As every economist knows, you can count on self-interest. It’s the force behind a thriving economy. as every economist knows, you can count on self-interest. It’s the force behind a thriving economy.

I don’t have to quote this. You’re all going to know it. But let’s quote it anyway. In 1776, Adam Smith said: “It is not from the benevolence of the of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard for their own interest.”

Smith was arguing that human beings are programmed to take care of themselves, and their families.

They will work to get what they need — food and shelter — and they will work even harder to get the things they want: sweet wheels, for example.

That drive in turn powers the economy.

But of course, we also take care of the things we value. We polish our cars. We keep our valuables safe. We lock up our expensive carbon-fibre bikes.

Now enter the share bike.

It’s not yours, so what do you care about what happens to it? …

You can borrow one and you can then leave it anywhere. The local council says so. It might get stolen or wrecked or thrown in a river, but so what? You have no stake.

If you’re a decent citizen, you might go out of your way to find a nice tree to lean it against, but what happens to it from there isn’t your problem.

You don’t have to store it out of the rain, so it doesn’t get rusty. You don’t have to make sure the tyres are pumped and the chain is greased.

You are not going to shove your own bike up a tree for Facebook likes and nor are you going to let your mates ride your bike down to the Yarra and dump it in the river, because you love your bike.