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?