There's been plenty of column inches devoted to the various major bike hire projects in our cities such as the Velib scheme in Paris and the hotly debated London scheme. But one small community in Ohio has just launched a scheme based on a very different model: Everyonebikes is a small, local-business-run scheme that aims to make bikes available locally without any investment in infrastructure.
The Everyonebikes scheme is based on a model where local businesses buy one or two bikes for local use by employees, but also make the bikes available to the community. The scheme is being launched in Columbus, Ohio, and local shop Tigertree has been waxing lyrical about the project on their blog. "Two weeks ago Dave from local business Sandbox rode into the shop on one of the few bikes he had purchased for people to run errands on throughout the day", they write. "We realized the easiest path to a working bikeshare in Columbus would be a loosely organized version of that model, across the city."
The hire scheme is free: customers are asked to leave a deposit and their details and they get the bike for two hours. Presumably they have to return it to where they hired it from, in order to make the scheme as simple as possible for the participating companies. All the bikes carry advertising panels, one of the incentives for companies to join the scheme.
The bike they've chosen for the pilot is a road.cc favourite, the Kona Africabike. Obviously Columbus is fairly flat as they've plumped for the singlespeed version. The bike is a very good fit for schemes such as this: it's very sturdy with a unisex stepthrough frame, and the front basket offers a bit of luggage capacity whilst also providing useful real estate for the advertising boards. On top of all that the bike sharing goes much further with the Africabike: for every two sold, one is donated to HIV/AIDS workers in Africa to help them visit more patients: learn more at www.konabiketown.com.
The Everyonebikes model looks to be one that would work well for smaller communities that don't need a big stock of hire bikes and haven't got money to build bike docks. Indeed, Everyonebike are confident that it'll work and are only too happy to help other towns set up similar schemes. "If you are a store in another city reading this and thinking, 'man I wish I would have thought of that,' we are happy you like the idea and would like you to have it.", writes the Tigertree blog. "We would be even happier to welcome you into the Everyonebikes.org network as we build a national database of neighborhoods utilizing this method"
There's a fledgling website at www.everyonebikes.org - not much there at the mo but we'll keep checking back
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.