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It’s not easy


Kermit the frog expressed the pitfalls and advantages of trying desperately to stand out from the crowd even when the current condition should be examined for its own positive attributes. “It’s not easy bein’ green,” lyrics written by Joe Raposo in 1970, refers to unhappiness if the perception is that there is little to differentiate yourself from others. However, the song ends with the realization that although change can be exciting and alluring, what already exists may be okay too; the desire for change can, at times, overwhelm practical considerations.


Fremont is learning a bit of a lesson in this arena as the Council is being asked this evening to formally reject all proposals “for the development, launch, and operations of a bike share system.” A one-year exclusive “pilot” program of shared pedal bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters with Neutron Holdings, Inc., DBA Lime has been scrapped due to a change of its business model, concentrating solely on e-scooters. The plan for a city filled with biking and scootering commuters was, it seems, a bit premature.


Although a framework for such a plan remains and a permitting process is being developed, there will be no practical implementation at this time. Apparently, the other firms vying for the business with “dockless” systems that do not require specific entry and exit points, do not meet Fremont’s requirements. Staff analysis states:


“The other firms that proposed on the City’s RFP [Request for Proposals] in June 2018 include ofo, VeoRide, and Gotcha Mobility. These firms have ceased operations in most U.S. markets; did not demonstrate sufficient track record of operating bike share systems in the Western U.D. or outside campus environments; and/or proposed a business model which requires an ongoing public subsidy for operations.”


A grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission was received to support this project by underwriting staff time, capital costs and outreach expenditures. What happens to those funds now?


It may be that it isn’t easy being green – Lime or otherwise. While the intentions and advocacy are to be commended, adequate research and investigation of practical issues must be high on the list of requirements even if grant money from other governmental entities is used. After all, unless a private grant is the basis of funding, use of such monies comes from taxpayers.


There is nothing sinister about using grant funds for projects such as last mile and commuter connections, especially when facing a traffic crisis. However, it might be prudent to comprehensively study and understand the stability of the market before entering into agreements in what Staff refers to as “a rapidly evolving industry.” It isn’t easy to be green when you want to stand out “like flashy sparkles” but a bit of planning might help avoid a glittering bust.


It's not easy being green.

It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.

And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're not standing out

like flashy sparkles in the water-

or stars in the sky.