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An Ode to Bike Libraries


"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance" (And the same goes for mobility!)


Today's blog is simple: FreeBike just wants to say how much we love bike libraries. We love, love, love bike libraries! Oh, what's a bike library, you ask? We're delighted to tell you the essentials.


A bike library is exactly what it sounds like: a place that people in the community can go in order to check out a bike to use for a set period of time. In some cases, that place is a traditional library, where people are already in the habit of going to get books. In other cases, the bike library is an addition to a bike parking area at a transit station, or is hosted out of a community-based organization's site. Regardless of location, everyone has used a library at some point, and the experience of getting an e-bike or scooter from a library is exactly the same.


You go in, present some proof that you live in the community, and you select the e-bike or scooter that you want to check out (charger, helmet, and lock included). Once you have it, you can renew your reservation as many times as the library allows. You just need to bring the vehicle back before the eventual due date. And, just like no one checks to see how fast you read a book you check out, or whether or not you even finish, it is up to you to choose how you want to use your vehicle while you have it checked out. Even better, bike libraries can offer a variety of vehicles, the same way they have a variety of books, letting users check out a cruiser on one visit and a cargo bike on the next.


There's a long-standing recognition that widespread mobility is a valuable public good, as evidenced by the billions of dollars that get spent every year on public transit, not to mention the hundreds of billions of dollars that get spent on public roads and other shared transportation infrastructure. Bike libraries are a simple extension of that precedent, providing a flexible and extraordinarily low-cost means of getting wheels to people who need them. Every person using a bike from a bike library is a huge financial savings to the community, as compared to that person either driving or using other modes of transit, much less compared to that person not being mobile enough to contribute fully to society.


Interested in learning more? FreeBike is working with a large West Coast city to create a bike library. See our Bike Library Case Study for more information on that project. We here at FreeBike would love to see this community's upcoming bike library open the doors to the creation of bike libraries around the country. There are thousands upon thousands of libraries in the United States, not to mention thousands of transit systems that could serve as hosts, each contributing to our strength as a society. Let's leverage these incredible community resources, and help even more people put their lives in motion.


For more information, or to talk over the possibility of creating a bike library in your community, please get in touch!

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