Light shone through the translucent roof, casting a glimmering shadow on the bikes lined alongside the rounded cement racks, their silver spokes and rubber wheels chilled by the foggy, November morning air.
Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman stood in front of the 18-by-9-foot metal-roofed structure, unveiling the first of 10 completed bike shelters throughout the city.
A $300,000 project … for glorified bike racks.
“You spent all this money on a bike rack? What about feeding the homeless?” shouted a man in the crowd, his worn, tattered clothing making him difficult to miss among the crowd of hipster cyclists and primped city officials.
A hiss from the lips of an official silenced the man, who later walked away.
But maybe he shouldn’t have — because the nameless man had a point.
Is a roofed bike rack really a good use of city money?
Sure, cyclists need a place to park their vehicles, but do these parking destinations really need roofs?
OK, so a cyclist wants to keep his or her bike dry in the rain. That makes sense. But if the rain has any slant to it at all, the bike is still going to get wet.
If there’s a blizzard, you might want to keep the snow from piling on top of your bike like a snowman built by Mother Nature. But will you really be riding your bike in five inches of snow?
Everyone has his or her “pet project,” but there has to be a better way to spend the city’s money.
Wandering down the main drags of Columbus, it’s impossible to see any fewer than four people sitting on the street corners, the ragged clothes on their backs their only material belongings.
They shake paper Subway cups full of change, hoping to collect enough money to order a hamburger off McDonald’s dollar menu as dusk draws near.
There are more than 400,000 women in the city of Columbus and almost 600,000 in Franklin County.
There’s one domestic-violence shelter to serve them.
Cycling is important. It keeps people healthy and active and helps the environment.
But when there are so many problems within a city that need to be fixed, the value of a dollar needs to be rethought, and maybe elaborate projects — such as roofed bike racks — need to be saved for a time of prosperity.
Alex Stuckey is a senior studying journalism and assistant managing editor of The Post. Know of any other wasteful pet projects?
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.