An interesting new twist on the common bike-share program has recently emerged in the Czech city of Brno — just stop into a coffee shop and buy a coffee. Rather than going through an entirely autonomous system, all that you have to do is stop into a local coffee shop and put down a small deposit. For about 300 Crown (about $16) you’ll then get access to a bike and a lock, with nothing but a simple request to turn it in at the end of the day (at any of the participating centers).
The program has, so far, apparently been quite the success — great popularity/use, little theft, and a growing user base. No doubt a success for both the coffee shops involved as well as customers. 🙂
Feargus O’Sullivan writing for The Atlantic Cities provides details, and makes some good points:
Brno’s project is small – so far only five bike points are involved – but the city’s alternative and apparently unique model still has some very useful lessons for other cities looking to get more citizens biking. Firstly, Brno shows that you don’t always have to go big, either in bike numbers or in sponsors. Major bike-share schemes typically involve major enterprises like Citibank and Barclays, but Brno’s participants are all small, local businesses…Secondly, micro-schemes mean you don’t necessarily need to invest in new infrastructure. All (the Brno system) relies on is participating venues having enough space to store some fold-up bikes…Thirdly, Brno proves that you can have private bike-share start-ups even in cities lacking the cash or political momentum to create larger public schemes.
Certainly a very interesting system. I can think of a couple of cities that I’ve lived in, just offhand, where such a system could probably work well. Hopefully with the success of this system other “unconventional” schemes will become more common.