Now, Danes can borrow bikes at special bicycle libraries

| June 15, 2015
Photo: Mikkel Østergaard

Photo: Mikkel Østergaard

A new concept, the “bicycle library” has seen the light in Denmark. Here, citizens can get professional advice on what kind of model best suits their needs and try out a wide range of models, all for free.

First bicycle libraries
So far, the concept which was developed by Bicycle Innovation Lab, member of the Cycling Embassy of Denmark, has been adopted by two municipalities. So far, they have received great feedback.

Citizens in the Municipalities of Copenhagen and Helsingoer can now book a bicycle online for free. On two weekday afternoons and Saturdays, bike enthusiasts open up the bicycle libraries for the public. Here, the public can get introduced to various models and book a bike for a one-week trial period.

Finding the perfect bicycle match
The goal is to make people aware of the more unconventional bikes such as cargo bikes, velomobiles, recumbent bicycles, fold-up bicycles, and e-bikes. The hope is that this can change people’s perception of their transport options, and make people bike more, further, and use the car less. The bicycle libraries have found that giving citizens the possibility to test new transport modes in their daily routine is more effective than campaigns with reminders and finger wagging.

Both the municipalities and their citizens benefit from the bicycle libraries. The municipality gets improved public health, climate change mitigation, and lowering of congestion levels. The citizens on the other hand experience good service and get the opportunity to try out different bikes before they buy one. Also, the local sale of special bicycles has been reported to increase, and retailers report that the buyers have been inspired by the library bicycles before investing.

We like to lend before we buy
Results from questionnaires filled in by the libraries’ users show that:

• 85 % of the users use the bike every day in loan period.
• 60 % would bike more if they had a bicycle type like the one they loaned at the library.
• 20 % would replace their daily car commuting with the bike or do combine it with other modes of transport.
• 50 % consider buying the same or similar bicycle type as the one they loaned.

The users also points out some important practical points when running a bicycle library. The range of models need to be broad (e.g. 35 different models), and booking needs to be available online. The bicycle libraries have been a greater success than expected. The hope is that they will contribute to a better, more open-minded and colorful cycling culture that will inspire more to cycle.

This article is a resume of an article on cykelviden.dk and information from Bicycle Innovation Lab’s webpage. For more, see Bicycle Innovation Labs page on the Danish Cycling Embassy’s webpage.

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Category: Commuting, Danish Cycling Know How, Economy, Health, Planning