If this were any other city in the world, the sight of a Playboy Playmate in six-inch stilettos and skintight jeans wobbling down the street on a beach cruiser would be an odd way of unveiling a new bike share.
But this is Miami Beach. And despite our recent criticism of DecoBike's bike share program, the company did right by asking Francesca Frigo, Miss August 2010, to take an inaugural spin this morning. Check out some more photos of Frigo and DecoBike after the jump.
While Frigo, DecoBike's first "ambassador," helped show off the new bicycles, city officials praised the program.
"This is a great day for the City of Miami Beach and for DecoBikes," city Commissioner Jerry Libbin said. "This is yet another step to try and make our city a greener city, a friendlier city for pedestrians by trying to reduce the use of automobiles and the carbon monoxide that they poison the air with."
Libbin also defended the program from criticism from both bike shop owners peeved over the added competition and citizens upset over parking spaces "donated" to DecoBike, a private company.
"I can't say that I know how bike shops were impacted in other cities [that introduced similar bike share programs]," admitted Libbin, who is also CEO of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. "But this is not a bike rental program like if you're checking into your hotel on vacation and wanted to borrow a bike to ride for a couple hours. This is absolutely not the program for you. It will cost you a lot more money than to go rent a bike at one of the bike shops around the city."
Instead, Libbin said DecoBike was supposed to be "an alternate mode of transportation" for Miami Beach residents. A yearly membership costs $180 and allows unlimited rides per day as long as each is under 30 minutes. Libbin said he was honored to be the first membership holder.
He also dismissed the parking debate.
"The whole concept for this is to reduce the need for parking spaces," Libbin said.
"For the 12 bikes or whatever it is at each docking station, to remove
three parking spaces is a win for the city. If we can get 12 people out
of their cars, it's fantastic."
Karen Gordon, a marketing assistant for DecoBike, said selling the idea of a bike share wasn't too hard in fitness-obsessed, eco-friendly Miami Beach.
"Sexy and green don't always go together," she said. "But we're lucky this is South Beach."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
DecoBikes are coming to your corner of the Beach, like it or not.
Michael E. Miller