Author Topic: Setting up a Bike Library  (Read 7880 times)

Learner

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Setting up a Bike Library
« on: February 27, 2015, 09:47:34 PM »
Greetings fellow mustachians,

The university that I work at in a smallish town (pop approx 120k) has pot of money that is intended for the morale and welfare of the people at work.  We are coming up to our annual budgeting meeting for this money soon, and I got the idea today to try to do a "bike library".

The basic idea is that students or staff can sign out the bikes from a single station and borrow it from 1-24 hours at no cost.  This would allow staff to borrow the bikes to get some exercise or try out bike commuting, and students could easily bike into town to do whatever.  After 24 hours, a penalty fee structure would be applied to discourage longer borrowing periods which would compete with another program the university offers (which is cost-prohibitive I think, at $50/day to borrow a bike).

The initial purchase costs and recurring maintenance costs would be incurred by the morale and welfare funding.

In terms of safety we would equip the bikes with front and rear lights, a bell or horn, and reflective tape on the forks.  These measures are required by law in our area.  I do not plan for us to maintain a helmet stock as they are not legally required here, and I think it would be problematic to administer.  We will strongly recommend helmets.  There will be a one-time waiver for people to sign.

The bikes will be available from spring to fall either on a basic rack or covered concrete pad, depending what I can get funding for.  In the winter they would be stored in one of our storage buildings - I do not anticipate the organization being open to winter biking.  We would supply a high-quality lock to ensure that the users would be capable of securing the bike when out and about.  I still have to figure out a detailed plan for how to deal with the risks of vandalism and theft.  I'm trying to collect stats for our area.

To access the bikes, users would sign out a key from our security desk, which would be the key for the bike locks.  Since it's a first-come, first-served service, I'd love to see a swipe card option to lower the barrier to access.  It might not be worth it.

I am considering trying to brand the bikes with a design specific to the university.  I think this will make them more resistant (slightly) to theft, but more prone to vandalism.  Thoughts?

I am piecing together quotes from local(ish) vendors.  Our area is relatively flat.  For a standard bike I am looking at some form of hybrid.  I'm also looking into a dutch bike (Industrial Bike by Azor) from Urkai, just outside of Toronto.

Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  I will be presenting this plan to our funding committee on Wednesday.

immocardo

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2015, 10:30:42 PM »
Alright, I have to start off this post by saying that I like your idea, and that it sounds like a great service to the community and a good way to hopefully get people riding bikes. 

Now some issues I see with the system.  (I will be listing only negative things because I've always felt that type of feedback helps more when someone is trying to implement something worthwhile)
A lot of these concerns will come from a students point of view:

1)How will you spread word about this service being available?

2)Where will the bikes be available from? Depending on location this will have a huge influence on how useful the bikes will actually be

3)Make sure anyone borrowing a bike understands that they will be liable if the bike goes missing.  Something such as a credit card at least on file is a good deterrent to bikes "disappearing"

4) Same thing as 3 for the locks, you will have to make sure people know that they need to lock up bikes

5) Depending on your fund, you could have an option to tip after returning a bike, this would allow a small amount of money to keep bikes in good shape.

Just a few things off the top of my head!  Good luck, it sounds like a great idea

Spondulix

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2015, 01:56:07 AM »
Have you considered a free/DIY repair shop? I've seen a few of these pop up in Los Angeles, and I love the idea.
http://bikerowave.org/about/
http://valleybikery.com/home/

It's "use at your own risk", but they have nice repair stands, tools and parts. I think it'd be great on campus, and it even could be volunteer run (if you had training, or people who knew bike repair). There's two major issues I see with a rental system:
1. accident liability
2. theft

In regards to theft, I have a friend who had a video game store that did rentals. People would pay cash and try to give a fake credit card number all the time. She had people give her a valid CC number then CANCEL the card a day or two later (so they could keep the game and not get charged). She lost more than she earned on the rentals. That's my concern (regardless of the rental cost), because that's a huge loss if inventory doesn't come back. $50 for a nice bike is a steal to a college student (no pun intended). College students will take anything - my old college had an amnesty day because they had so much disappear.

Learner

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2015, 06:36:17 PM »
...
1)How will you spread word about this service being available?

2)Where will the bikes be available from? Depending on location this will have a huge influence on how useful the bikes will actually be

3)Make sure anyone borrowing a bike understands that they will be liable if the bike goes missing.  Something such as a credit card at least on file is a good deterrent to bikes "disappearing"

4) Same thing as 3 for the locks, you will have to make sure people know that they need to lock up bikes

5) Depending on your fund, you could have an option to tip after returning a bike, this would allow a small amount of money to keep bikes in good shape.

...

I guess it will streamline considerations quite a bit if I note that it's a military college, so we have the ability to apply a bit more of an iron fist if desired.  With that in mind, here's what I'm thinking.

1) We have broadcast TVs throughout the campus, which we could put messages on.  The main details could be hosted on one of the university's web site, to keep the "hey this exists" messaging clean and simple.  Other initial communication could be via university-wide email or weekly orders groups.

2) It's a small campus, so choosing a location should be fairly easy.  We only really need one drop point, which would be close to our security centre, which the users would obtain keys from.

3) Not so worried about the credit card on file, as long as we know who had the bike, we have options for cost recovery.  Still, I think this is the hardest nut to crack.  If the users just have it for exercise, there are no issues.  However, if they are using it to run errands or try out commuting, they will need to secure it at their destination.  This opens the bikes up to the possibility of theft and vandalism.  Part of this can be mitigated by choosing "safer" locations, and another part by us supplying decent-quality locks.  I would prefer a longer cable lock, since there are not always great places to lock up in town.   I personally often use lamp posts.  We could have a briefing or something on how to lock up so they can prevent the easy thefts.

4) See above.

5) Our fund is healthy enough that we won't need to worry about tips for maintenance.  Long-term, I'd love to see an internal club step up to take on maintenance duties, but that might open up additional problems.  Our short-term (up to 3-year plan) would be to outsource the maintenance, which would give us enough time for proof-of-concept.  If it's a success at this stage we might be able to make a case to develop that capability in-house.  I did talk to a vendor today that suggested an outdoor pump and basic tool station that could be next to the bikes.  I would probably want to have consumable flat kits that could be signed out.  Not sure if we would need to bother about cost recovery here.  We might try to front the cost for the first bit and see how it goes.  Trying to balance costs with admin burden.

Thanks for the feedback!  I know I still have more to think through and if any of it is completely out of whack, having a sounding board is really useful.

Learner

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2015, 06:37:48 PM »
Spondulix, that is super-sneaky - using a valid card and then cancelling would never have crossed my mind.  Wouldn't they still have enough information to track them down and press charges?

SF Semi-Mustache

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2015, 11:02:52 PM »
If you want support, feel free to tell them that Stanford has bikes that can be checked out of the library to zip around campus.  I always made good use of that system when I was studying there.  Sounds like a similar setup -- you checked it out like a book, so there was a record of you having taken the bike.  Downside is that it was for Stanford affiliates, not members of the larger community, but the campus was so large that basically anyone who made it to that library were Stanford affiliates. 

Spondulix

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2015, 01:13:52 AM »
Spondulix, that is super-sneaky - using a valid card and then cancelling would never have crossed my mind.  Wouldn't they still have enough information to track them down and press charges?
Honestly I can't remember how that one got resolved. It only took a few various scams before they decided to stop the rental program. The margins on new games were way too low for them to lose as many games as they were. Gamers are a tricky bunch!

RetiredAt63

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2015, 07:38:28 AM »
Since this is a campus, and lending will be restricted to those on campus (students/staff), instead of credit cards I would suggest using student/staff ID cards. My former College did that for cameras, etc. from AV, and had excellent return rates. 

Ricky

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2015, 08:55:31 AM »
In regards to theft, I have a friend who had a video game store that did rentals. People would pay cash and try to give a fake credit card number all the time. She had people give her a valid CC number then CANCEL the card a day or two later (so they could keep the game and not get charged). She lost more than she earned on the rentals. That's my concern (regardless of the rental cost), because that's a huge loss if inventory doesn't come back. $50 for a nice bike is a steal to a college student (no pun intended). College students will take anything - my old college had an amnesty day because they had so much disappear.
That's why you don't stop at a credit card. You get a copy of their driver's license as well, and all other pertinent information.

Learner

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2015, 09:04:01 AM »
Since this is a campus, and lending will be restricted to those on campus (students/staff), instead of credit cards I would suggest using student/staff ID cards. My former College did that for cameras, etc. from AV, and had excellent return rates.

I've been thinking about this lately, and I may a solution.  We have ID cards with proximity chips and magnetic stripes.  I want to check if there is something like a locker system (or key box) that operates on the swipe cards instead of physical keys.  If we put this in an area with video surveillance, we would have a pretty low-admin system to encourage access to keys and/or consumables (e.g. patch kits, etc). 

I think I would want to keep the patch kits separate to be easier to track.  I don't think many people would need them for the short exercise periods, or simple errands into town.  Longer rides would be more likely.

In terms of carrying capacity, any thoughts from the forum?  I think at a minimum we'd want:
 - water bottle cage (no bottles provided due to hygiene issues)
 - under seat bag for tool kit, cell phone, keys

It might be nice to have racks on all the bikes, with an option of a loaner pool of panniers.

myrax

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2015, 09:28:20 AM »
For carrying capacity, rear racks would be a cheap and flexible option. With a bungee cord, students could strap books or other items to the rack. Milk crates and bungee cords offer even more low-cost carrying opportunities.

Check out the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly University program- a number of universities do something similar to what you are describing and the staff at those universities can probably help you out immensely. If you know anyone that is a member of the Association of Bicycle and Pedestrian Professionals (APBP) you could ask them to send out an ask for lessons learned on the APBP listserv and you should probably get a fair amount of resources.

spokey doke

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2015, 09:32:57 AM »
Killer plan.  Here are a few rather random responses:

- there are place that put ID chips hidden in the bike and advertise it as a 'Bait Bike' to deter theft (or just put the stickers on as a deterrent instead).
- don't underestimate the amount of work it will take to keep a fleet of bikes in good working condition (so they continue to get used).  This will cost money and will require having staff that do a good job on the repair front.
- I like the idea of an industrial bike (for part of the fleet) and you may want to look broadly at the growing segment of cargo bikes out there that people could use to haul things.
- I also think the idea posed above of a DIY bike shop could be instituted in an incremental way in working to support biking in and around campus: make a good bike stand (you can mount just the clamp on a post), with compressed air, and perhaps a few tools (triple allen wrench and such), available to all, in or just outside the check out place, without actually taking the full plunge.

Learner

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2015, 10:31:31 AM »
- I also think the idea posed above of a DIY bike shop could be instituted in an incremental way in working to support biking in and around campus: make a good bike stand (you can mount just the clamp on a post), with compressed air, and perhaps a few tools (triple allen wrench and such), available to all, in or just outside the check out place, without actually taking the full plunge.

One of the vendors I spoke to mentioned this for a pump/tool station where we keep the bikes: https://www.sarisparking.com/product-category/cycling-infrastructure/

Check out the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly University program- a number of universities do something similar to what you are describing and the staff at those universities can probably help you out immensely. If you know anyone that is a member of the Association of Bicycle and Pedestrian Professionals (APBP) you could ask them to send out an ask for lessons learned on the APBP listserv and you should probably get a fair amount of resources.

Myrax, thanks for the suggestion, I'll check into it!  I'm sure I'm not the first person to consider this.

iknowiyam

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2015, 10:41:15 AM »
FWIW, I think branding the bikes with University logo is a great idea. It advertises the the school cares about faculty, staff, and students. It sends a positive message to potential students visiting the campus, and if you include that in your pitch the school might buy into the idea even more.

Here is my question: Helmets. Will they be available to check out with the bike?

hyla

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2015, 10:44:53 AM »
For carrying capacity, I would strongly recommend crates or metal baskets over racks.  Rear racks are great if someone has panniers (but I'm assuming someone who does not have their own bike would not have panniers) but simply bungeeing your bag to a rear rack does not work very well.  Any kind of bag can be put in baskets and crates, which is a huge convenience when talking about rental bikes with multiple users who may need to carry various types of bags.

Ynari

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2015, 11:20:13 AM »
This is my school's program:

http://sustainability.uchicago.edu/resources/recycles_bike_share/

I have never, ever used it because of the absurd time limitations (must be back by 6pm), but others like using it for leisurely bike rides or just a short grocery run. I bought my own bike because there wouldn't be the limitations.

Divvy recently came to Chicago, though, and Recycles was almost on its death bed. It's still around but it's questionable how much longer.

Imerz

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2015, 12:15:24 PM »
One aspect of your proposal that I think is vital is the purchase of new bikes from a supplier. 

Backstory: Three years ago my university attempted a bike sharing program.  They tried to implement it with bicycles that had been forfeited through abandonment, refurbished by the local prison.  It was a  disaster!  The Local Bike Shop (LBS) in town refused to work on the bikes due to their inferior origin (Walmart specials).  There was significant burden to borrowing a bike ( check out at front desk, 1hr limit, no PT A to pt B dropoffs, etc)  On top of that, the bikes sucked, as in the bearings were so bad it was a pain to bike across campus--terrible.

Just wanted to share...

ronrico77

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2015, 04:00:10 PM »
The smallish college in my town does this: North Central College - I think they have around 150 bikes now. They take a slightly different approach and students are actually assigned a bike for the full term, and there is some kind of volunteer or student run bike shop that takes care of the bikes. http://patch.com/illinois/naperville/north-central-college-campus-goes-green-while-seeing-red.

If you are interested I can probably find the name of the person that runs the program if you want to reach out and get their take on how it works.

Learner

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2015, 08:28:56 AM »
Presentation is today, although I haven't gotten all the requisite approvals in place yet, so today's meeting might become an information brief with a second meeting later to get funding.

We're avoiding sign-out helmets for hygiene and liability issues.  Local laws require anyone under 18 to wear a helmet, but it's optional past that.  My personal view on helmets is that those with a brain protect it.

I checked into the branding option further.  Our public affairs side wasn't too enthusiastic either way, and at an estimated $500-600/bike, I won't be recommending it.  Maybe a task for a club down the road?

We are opting to have at least rear racks, with panniers that can be signed out as well.

myrax, sorry, I haven't had time to check into the LABB or APBP.  If we do a follow-up meeting I definitely will.

Finally, we are shooting for 6-8 bikes.  The student population is about 1000, with approx 400-500 staff across all departments and support.  The thought is that this will let us test the waters.  My proposals are (in order):
 - 6x http://www.urkai.com/bikes/industrial-bike-by-azor (one size fits most), costs about $12000 all said and done
 - 8x http://www.trekbikes.com/ca/en/bikes/city/fitness/fx/7_1_fx/, costs about $6000

Even though it's twice as much, I think the industrial bike brings a lot more to the table in terms of security (e.g. wheel immobilizers and integrated locking) and ease of cargo transport.  The one-size-fits-most will allow pretty much anyone grab one of the bikes without worrying too much about sizing.

I could re-send to the other vendors to provide something more this scale (I left their tendered model up to them), but I suspect with something like a Trek or Giant, moving up to that range would be a lot more attractable to thieves.  Any thoughts?
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 08:32:33 AM by Learner »

Gerard

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2015, 03:03:22 PM »
Have you considered using the same bikes that bikeshare programmes like Divvy  use? They're too ugly to steal, and they seem to cost less than the (admittedly pretty cool) industrial bikes you link to.

(Off topic, assuming your school is RMC, I remember meeting a bunch of your open-minded articulate students some years ago, and they helped challenge my punk rock prejudice against military folk.)

Learner

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2015, 01:51:38 PM »
Gerard, do you have a link for where I can find a supplier for those bikes?  The Azor bikes are about $1500/each, and the extra stuff (and taxes) drives the estimate up to about $2k/bike.

I could only give an information briefing yesterday, with a bit more work to follow.  The plan in place so far is pretty good, but I need to solve a few admin details with the respective staff (where exactly will the bikes be placed, etc).  Hoping to have the full plan ready for the end of the month.

Learner

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #21 on: March 05, 2015, 01:52:59 PM »
And yes, it is RMC.  Like any institution, we have a mix of people.  I'm glad you met some of the good examples.  We like when those ones shine through :)

Gerard

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #22 on: March 05, 2015, 06:17:59 PM »
Gerard, do you have a link for where I can find a supplier for those bikes?

Sorry, I don't. I'm assuming they're cheaper than some of the prices you're seeing based on the replacement costs those systems charge people who lose them (around $1200). But maybe the systems underwrite the replacement cost a little, I don't know.

ryanthequark

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2015, 01:04:33 AM »
Nothing substantive to add; I just wish this existed when I was in school. It's a great idea!

Lis

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #24 on: March 09, 2015, 08:55:52 AM »
My alma mater implemented a bike share program after I left. I don't know the details on exactly how it works, but I'm sure if you call or email someone the sustainability office they'd be happy to talk to you.

http://www.skidmore.edu/sustainability/programs/bikemore.php

iknowiyam

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #25 on: March 28, 2015, 11:56:41 AM »
Presentation is today, although I haven't gotten all the requisite approvals in place yet, so today's meeting might become an information brief with a second meeting later to get funding.

We're avoiding sign-out helmets for hygiene and liability issues.  Local laws require anyone under 18 to wear a helmet, but it's optional past that.  My personal view on helmets is that those with a brain protect it.
...


You could invite a local bike shop or sports store to do an annual helmet sale in the first few weeks of class. After all, campus bikes are gateway bikes... leading to eventual bike ownership for many.  ;)

Learner

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #26 on: April 07, 2015, 09:04:38 AM »
That Skidmore program is pretty good, close match to our size as well.  After talking with them, I'm trying to get their vendor as one of our options.

Love the idea of a helmet sale - which would be great for our existing commuters as well.

Learner

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #27 on: April 07, 2015, 09:12:00 AM »
In the middle of a much deeper analysis to try to get funding.  I'm planning on using analytical hierarchy process to try to highlight that cost is *not* the only factor, with the top-tier factors as cost, time (maint and admin), style (mostly the perspective of fitting to users), and theft risk.  Trying to find data on relative risk for models is pretty tricky so far, if anyone has info on this, I'd love to see it. 

The current models that we're trying to assess are:
http://www.urkai.com/bikes/industrial-bike-by-azor (Dutch-style rental)
http://www.trekbikes.com/ca/en/bikes/city/fitness/fx/7_1_fx/ (basic commuter hybrid)
http://www.onbikeshare.com/bike-share-system/bicycles.php (custom bike-share model)

I tried reaching Bixi, but they haven't gotten back to me.

vhalros

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #28 on: April 07, 2015, 09:22:03 AM »
At my school, the bike share program was student run (students did all the repairs and maintenance), but the administration of checking things in and out was handled by the library. This worked really well, since they already had a system in place for tracking who checked what out, administering late fees, etc. The bikes were just an item in the libraries catalog, so you could check on-line if any bikes where available.

It did have the disadvantage that you could only check bikes out when the library was open.

The library also had helmets for check out. If you don't have this, approximately zero people will wear helmets. But they are sort of over-rated any way.

Learner

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Re: Setting up a Bike Library
« Reply #29 on: April 07, 2015, 09:28:07 AM »
From a survey, a surprisingly large percentage of our population claims to have helmets, regardless of bike ownership.  I'm planning this as a 24/7 service (from spring to fall).  During business hours, there are helmets available from our sports store, which are run by our gym. 

Our leadership wants helmets to be 100%, although legal does not require it.  We will include a waiver and education package as well.  I think showing they are available combined with spot-enforcing should be enough to satisfy this requirement.  If the 100% is a hard requirement, then the whole project would be a non-starter anyway.