Free bikes? Maybe if you live in Cambridge, MA.

I came across this article, “Free bike rides for tenants at Cambridge enterprise – The Boston Globe“, via C.I.C.L.E.

Excerpt from the article…

Borrowers go to the front desk or to a center employee and sign a waiver form. They are then given a code that will unlock any of the bikes stashed in a nearby rack. Borrowers can select any of the 10 bikes in the fleet, and helmets, reflective vests, and leg straps are provided for free.

While most take the bikes only for a day or so, borrowers are permitted to take them for longer, said Moreau.

So far, none of the bikes have been damaged due to collisions, though the pair expects that’ll happen sometime. And only one has been lost to theft – a borrower had a bike stolen from him. “It was not a big deal,” Moreau said of losing the $800 bike. “I feel like people are trustworthy in general.”

Moreau said he thought it would be great if other businesses in the area, or even the local municipalities, copied the idea and offered their own bike-borrowing programs. But if such offerings weren’t financially self-sustaining, he added, the likelihood is still probably a long way off.

I think this is a great idea. If people could accept the idea of advertising on their bikes, this program could potentially be “financially self-sustaining”. Do you think people would ride a free bike if the front triangle was filled with an ad for the local convenience store, pizza joint, or coffee shop? Or how about the Velib program in Paris, where people pay a small yearly fee to be able to take bikes from station to station for free (if used for less than a half hour)? I think both systems are great ideas. The Cambridge model can be implemented on a local scale (I bet the honour system works better on smaller programs than large), and even company by company.

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