Reason: Hit & Run | Nick Gillespie | Breaking: Affluent, Well-Educated White Guys Dig Bicycle Subsidies for Affluent, Well-Educated White Guys(1) No, Capital Bikeshare shouldn't be subsidized. Let me get that out of the way right now. I supposed I could conceivably be convinced this is worth subsidizing as a congestion-reduction method, but I would need a big heap of convincing.
The video notes that [DC's Capital Bikeshare] has received around $16 million in federal, state, and local subsidies and, according to the program's newest user survey, is used exclusively by well-educated, mostly affluent, and mostly white folks. The video makes the bold and apparently novel argument that while biking is fun and wonderful and all kinds of awesome, there is no good goddamn reason that cash-strapped taxpayers should be subsidizing the preferences of elites.
(2) I'm not convinced subsidies like this are "for the rich." These (subsidized) bikes are available to everybody. (Assuming Capital Bikeshare hasn't put all of their depots in neighborhoods a standard deviation above average income, that is. For all I know they have, in which case please disregard this point.) Some subset of people choose to use them. Those people are rich. There is nothing I can see which is intrinsic to short-term bike rental which favors rich people. The only reason I am aware of which makes this a subsidy to "the rich" is that "the poor" have chosen not to use it.
We have plenty of programs which explicitly transfer money to rich people (e.g., Solyndra, US sugar policy) or people who are on average rich (e.g., Medicare, various house-price inflation measures, assorted student loan schemes). I would not lump those policies together with a program that benefits rich people due to voluntary decisions people make about participation.
(3) I've had this same conversation with people about subsidizing museums. On average, museum attendants are wealthy. That does not mean that a subsidy for a museum is a subsidy for "the rich." Ditto public radio. The decision to subsidize something should be independent of the demographics of the people that freely choose or do not choose to use it.