Maybe This Time, the Bikes Won't End Up in the River 自行車葬身台伯河計畫告終止 羅馬再度推共享單車
In 2013, Rome pulled the plug on its bike share program after it ran out of money and cars kept double-parking in front of its bike racks. Last year, a Hong Kong company gave up after many of its green bicycles ended up in the Tiber river. Months later, a Singapore company bailed after Romans stole the yellow bikes and broke them down for parts.
Rome has been a bike share wasteland, but Uber says things will be different for the shiny new red bikes it has introduced all over the city.
"We've tested ours on Rome's cobblestones," said Michele Biggi, manager of Uber's Jump electric-bike program in southwestern Europe, who added that previous competitors' bikes weren't up to the city's demands and "could have fallen down with just a gust of wind."
He has big plans for the Uber bikes, he said, which "will change Rome and give the city a new lifeblood."
Uber and its competitors have already introduced similar pedal-assisted bikes and electric scooters in Paris; London; Lisbon, Portugal; Brussels and other cities that in several cases are overrun with rolling menaces. (Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, has decried "the scooter anarchy.") But Rome, the first Italian city to get Uber's electric-bicycle service, is not any other European city.
Rome could be a bike-share dream in one respect: There is no shortage of demand. The city has only two finished subway lines (a third is perennially under construction), and buses come late, fail to show up and occasionally explode.
Driving on the city's notoriously clogged streets is a nightmare. Parking is worse.
But the obstacles to a bike share program are daunting: Rome's infamous potholes, its mounds of uncollected trash, double-parked cars, a strong vandal spirit in place since the actual Vandals sacked Rome, and a local resistance to change and physical exertion.
Rome's embattled mayor, Virginia Raggi, urged Romans to show that the city is civilized after all.
The company is introducing a fleet of 2,800 bicycles that can be left practically anywhere, and they seem to be everywhere.
But not all Romans are fans. "Rome Is Gross" a well-known social media feed decrying the city's degradation, has posted complaints about the high price of the Uber bikes, which cost 50 cents to unlock and then 20 cents for every minute of use. That is about the rate charged by car-sharing services.
But that effort has backfired in Indonesia, where illicit backyard manufacturers have sprung up to supply wildcat miners and replace mercury that was previously imported from abroad. Now, Indonesia produces so much black-market mercury that it has become a major global supplier, surreptitiously shipping thousands of tons to other parts of the world.
"It is a public health crisis," said Yuyun Ismawati, a co-founder of an Indonesian environmental group, Nexus3 Foundation, and a recipient of the 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize. She has called for a worldwide ban on using mercury in gold mining.
Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation, stands out for its huge number of outlaw gold miners and for concerns that some law enforcement officials assigned to police the trade are instead profiting from it.
Since 2013, 114 countries, including Indonesia, have signed on to the Minamata Convention, a treaty that took effect in 2017 and that requires participating nations to reduce the export and use of mercury in a variety of industries.