“Buy a coffee, and we’ll lend you a free bike. This is the idea behind a novel kind of bike-share scheme in the Czech Republic,” writes Feargus O’Sullivan. “[A] group of cafes in Brno, the country’s second-largest city, have come together to offer customers free biking. Dropping in for a drink, all users need to do is put down a deposit of 300 Crown ($16) and they get a lock, a folding bike and a request to turn it in at the end of the day at any of the participating centers.”
“Major bike-share schemes typically involve major enterprises like Citibank and Barclays, but Brno’s participants are all small, local businesses – its hub is a café, bar and arts venue,” he notes. “While participants…need to take a long view, they clearly believe they can recoup their investment in a few bikes by encouraging more customers to buy drinks, by developing user loyalty and creating a city-wide publicity platform for themselves and the events they host.”
The system, which has experienced much popularity and very little theft or abuse, no-doubt benefits from some local conditions such as a tight-knit urban core, as well as loyal patrons and volunteers. While the system may not be replicable everywhere, it illustrates an altogether different and intriguing approach to bike-share, one without corporate sponsorship, new infrastructure, municipal involvement or public cash.