The ride is smooth. We’re talking Cadillac smooth. The 10 Electra Townie bicycles that make up the Molasky Corporate Center’s new employee bikeshare program — five his, five hers — ride like wafting clouds. Beginning this week, employees of the Molasky Center can borrow these two-wheeled
works of art free of charge. And that, savage reader, is luxury that anyone can afford.
Impressive though the Molasky bikes are, I’m far more excited by what they represent. To my mind, the arrival of a bikesharing program is a bellwether of urban maturity: This is a sign that Las Vegas, an automobile culture at its core, is at least beginning to entertain the idea of alternative transportation. Or, as Mayor Carolyn Goodman put it at a press conference announcing the program, “It’s a green-letter day.” The Molsaky bikes, in their small but stylish way, send the message that it’s not such a crazy idea to bus to work and bike to lunch.
Whether Molasky Center-based employees will actually do that is anyone’s guess. The area around the Molasky Center remains largely vacant; employees can either ride to lunch at Mundo on Grand Central Parkway, which has no bike lane worth the mention, or they can navigate the Ogden underpass beneath the Union Pacific right-of-way to Fremont Street, where bike racks are scarce outside of the Fremont East corridor.
Like many other downtown businesses, the Molasky Center is taking a big step without knowing if the rest of the staircase yet exists. Even Mayor Goodman wondered aloud if the Molasky Center was providing adequate shower facilities for cyclists. The first person who actually takes one of
these bikes to lunch will, by necessity, take an activist role in the bikeshare program; he or she will have to encourage others to follow, and maybe tell them how to get to lunch at Le Thai without getting run down.
But just imagine what could happen if this idea spreads. The Public Bicycle system in Hangzou, China has 60,600 bicycles available at 2,416 stations; Paris’ Vélib' has 1,200 pickup stations and 16,000 bikes. And late in the Molasky press conference, Regional Transportation Commission general manager Tina Quigley casually announced that RTC is deep in planning for a public bikeshare program that may be in place as early as next summer. Molasky’s 10 bikes could be the advance guard of a cultural shift that changes how Las Vegans use downtown’s roads.
At the very least, it’ll change how the Goodmans get around.
“My thought,” said Mayor Goodman, “is that I would sit in
the basket, while Oscar pedals.”