At This Bike Library, Check Out a Velomobile
Let’s say you’re a mom on your way to drop off your kids at daycare, or headed to buy lots of groceries, or to work at the other end of the city. You’d probably drive (or perhaps take public transportation, if you had to), but why not try a bike?
“Yeah, right, how am I supposed to fit two kids or five bags of groceries on my ordinary bike, or make a 12 mile ride in time to reach work?” you might ask yourself.
That's the question we're answering. We believed that almost all the things we use the car for today could just as easily be done with a bike. But we needed a way to demonstrate that to others, so we created The Bicycle Library. The idea behind the library is to give people a way to test out bikes with unusual features in their everyday life to see what really works for them. People can try the bikes out and find a good fit without having to spend lots of money on the wrong solution. It makes it easier for them to commit to, say, investing in a electric bike to transport themselves to work.
The Bicycle Library is a part of the Danish bicycle culture project Bicycle Innovation Lab. We managed to get funding for the first year and a half so that we could hire a small staff and buy bicycles for the library. Bicycle producers have delivered bikes for free, a shipping company gave us the containers for the library and we have a lot of bike-enthusiast volunteers that help us run the bicycle library.
Even so, things cost money, so after August everybody will be able to join the association for a fee—300 kroner ($52) will give you three loans. You just reserve the bike online, and pick it up on the day you've booked. Bike loans last 3-4 days, long enough that you can see how the bike fits into your life.
You will not be able to find many ordinary two-wheeled bikes in the Bicycle Library, but instead you can try odd-looking models like the recumbent or the velomobile for long journeys, folding bikes for combined journeys, or electric racers for the fast trips. We have all of the interesting bikes that can be hard to get your hands on otherwise.
Over the past year, half of the users of the Bicycle Library have told us that they want to buy a bike like the one they borrowed, and nearly half said that if they had one of our bikes, they'd ride longer and more often.
The Bicycle Library started out as a service by locals for locals. Now we're taking the next step, and have started to rent parts of the Bicycle Library to corporations or cities that want to give their employees or citizens the change to find the bike that suits their needs.
You can see our bicycle selection and read more about the project at bicycleinnovationlab.dk.
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Photos courtesy of Bicycle Innovation Lab