“Bike Libraries” Encourage Cycling Downtown

Bike libraries — a concept that lets people check out bicycles like books or DVDs — are popping up across the country.

Some programs offer access to e-bikes, but most focus on traditional pedal-powered bikes. Some initiatives are associated with universities, others with public libraries. But all put bike share programs within reach of more communities and riders.

In Madison, WI, for instance, the Madison Public Library Foundation and bike-share operator BCycle lets riders use their Madison Public Library cards to access one of over 300 electric bikes.

Meanwhile, the fleet of 30 bikes in the City of Commerce City, CA, is available at no cost to library cardholders. Rather than working with a rideshare partner, the bikes are owned and the program is operated by the county library system.

The bicycles were donated by a failed rideshare program, and funding assistance comes from the nonprofit Northeast Transportation Connections and a grant from the city.

The library houses the bicycles in an on-site storage space. Each bicycle comes with a basket, helmet, and lock. All borrowers need is a library card.

More on “bike libraries” appears in the April issue of Downtown Idea Exchange newsletter. Click to learn more about Downtown Idea Exchange and other resources for revitalizing downtowns and commercial corridors.

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