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Anarchy on wheels in New Bedford

Bike-sharing finally came to New Bedford this past month with the launching of Zagster, Inc.’s bike-sharing program in the city at Fort Taber Park and State Pier.

Bike-sharing allows you to use a bike from the stations for on-demand, local trips. Riders join the program by signing up for Annual, Pay as you go or student memberships. You can get all of the details here.  

Most people are familiar with bike-sharing in the United States due to New York City’s successful implementation of its Citi Bike sharing program about a decade ago under Mayor Mike Bloomberg, underwritten by Citi Bank.

The corporate sponsorship is ironic – because bike-sharing has its roots in…anarchy!

The concept of bike-sharing was born in 1960s Amsterdam (you just knew that, didn’t you?). And, it was the brainchild of an anarchist group called Provo.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono with a Provo “White Bike.” Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Provo’s bike-sharing program was called “Witte Fietsenplan.” The group’s goal was thoroughly laudable. Its ‘white bikes’ sharing program was designed was to combine individual transit with mass transit and make urban transportation generally more healthy, equitable and environmentally-friendly.

Why that’s radical is beyond me, but hey, it was the ‘60s and one must assume that anything proposed by a bunch of long-haired, grass-smoking hippies in their 20s was suspect.

Things didn’t go so well for Provo’s bike sharing idea.

Police – suspicious of the anarchist group – confiscated the white bikes left around the city. Others were thrown in Amsterdam’s canals.

But decades later in Denmark, a member of Provo was instrumental in launching a new bike-share program in the 1990s that finally gained traction. Indeed, it spawned a global bike-share movement that spread to Vienna then Paris and eventually … New Bedford now.

So, in 2018 America, you don’t need a Harley to feel like a bad-ass.

Embrace anarchy and get in touch with your radical roots by hopping on a Zagster, Inc. New Bedford ride.

But don’t forget to wear a helmet. We’re not in Amsterdam, after all!

Steven Froias