Friday, October 30, 2009

A Case Study for Elinor Ostrom's 2009 Nobel Speech?

Here is a French tragedy of the commons. In a happy utopia, people could share the bicycles through renting them, using them and returning them and this "green transit mode" would reduce vehicle use. But, this has not played out. 80% of the bikes have been stolen or injured.

"Residents here can rent a sturdy bicycle from hundreds of public stations and pedal to their destinations, an inexpensive, healthy and low-carbon alternative to hopping in a car or bus.

But this latest French utopia has met a prosaic reality: Many of the specially designed bikes, which cost $3,500 each, are showing up on black markets in Eastern Europe and northern Africa. Many others are being spirited away for urban joy rides, then ditched by roadsides, their wheels bent and tires stripped."

One solution would be for renters to post a larger deposit which would be returned to them when they return the bike back in mint condition. But, this would price out the poor and lower middle class.

Can social sanction and repeated interaction substitute for rule of law in this case?


Mo-ha-med said...

There already is a deposit - you need a credit card to borrow the bike, and it blocks 150 euros off your card until you return the bike.
However, there is no control over the shape or quality of the bike returned.

It is, however, relatively easy to unlock a bike without paying the fee... simply improving the bike lock would do wonders!

Jason said...

Why are the bikes so expensive? It seems to me if they were cheaper, then there would be less incentive to steal and resell them.

Derek Wall said...

this is about her paper on climate change, see what you think.

Josh said...

I heard that they do this more effectively in Northern Europe, and I've also heard that visiting Spaniards "teach them a lesson" in being too trusting, and take them.

I don't know if that is true, though.