[TheThinkTank] Clear Channel Bike "Share"

Urban Bike Project of Wilmington, Inc. urbanbikeproject at gmail.com
Tue Oct 16 18:45:29 PDT 2007


This is also an opportunity for community bike organizations like ours to
make cash to further missions and do more outreach, programs in schools,
etc.  This might not be as feasible in huge cities but those of us in
smaller municipalities should investigate ways to partner with these
for-profit groups or even setting up rentals like this ourselves.

UBP is looking into running our own bike rental program with advertising
sponsors as well as rental fees (free for an hour but if you don't bring it
back it charges you kinda deal).  The hardest part would be getting capital
for startup costs like the RFID/credit card billing system, racks and the
bikes themselves.  That's where local companies come in with an agreement
that if they pay for one of these systems, they get free advert for 2 years
or something.  When rentals need repairs you can teach valuable skills to
volunteers using the shop/workspace you already have.

This is all theoretical and it would be nice to hear if anyone else is
interested in pursuing something like this.  I don't know if this list is
the best place for discussions (what with all the unsubscribe fuss these
days) but let me know your thoughts.

A few of my own....
1. Would it make more sense to partner with a for profit company and simply
get the repair contract with the idea that you could train mechanics and use
it as a teaching tool?  Wilmington is unique in that it is a city of 75,000
with no bike shop at all.  Obviously you would probably not want to be
taking business away from existing shops in your area.

2. If your group was to start up a project like this, what grants would be
available to fund startup costs?  I am not familiar with all the different
types of grants but I know there are some out there through bikes belong, TE
funds and others.

3. What are the commercial rental systems available for purchase?  These
would be RFID tagged bikes with self-locking racks and a credit card system
to control the locking/unlock as well as payment if necessary.  For those
concerned about equal access you could note on the racks that bikes are
available for use at your facility with no credit card needed.  How much do
these systems cost?

4. Is this something that community shops could be getting into at all?  We
have big plans for Wilmington and have a strong advocacy interest to our org
as well.  Rental programs like this reduce traffic, improve air quality,
health, bla bla all that good stuff.  Fits right in with our mission which
boils down to getting more people on bikes and making bikes more feasible
for the everyday person.

I am on the Thunderhead mailing list and will pose these questions to them
as well.  PLEASE let me know if this list is the best place to continue this
discussion, otherwise we can create a separate list of interested orgs and
carry on outside, posting our findings at a later time.

Thanks, and I apologize for the spew!

Brian Windle
Urban Bike Project of Wilmington

On 10/16/07, Bruce Lien <bikedadlien at yahoo.com> wrote:
> I really don't think we have to worry about a shortage of people in need
> of bikes.  "We can not afford to allow the bottom-line calculus of Clear
> Channel and the other billboard-industry giants, to decide for us how we
> share our bikes." Regardless of how many bikes the corporate world dumps
> into the mainstream, there will be those in need who will want their own
> bikes.  We have advertising on the local buses, bus stop benches, and taxis.
> If someone wants to give bikes for the masses to use and this results in
> less cars and pollution as well as making the lives of those who could not
> afford a bike that much easier, then I wish them the best of luck, though I
> bet the big oil companies would love to see this plan shot down.  And we
> will always decide how our bikes are utilized in the communities.
> Bruce, Bicycle Recycle Program
> *Bikes Not Bombs <mail at bikesnotbombs.org>* wrote:
> Hello folks, here's just a heads up that Clear Channel, mega-
> advertising giant, may soon have Boston city contracts and be running
> a large scale "bike-sharing" fleet with stations, including of
> course, advertising on all surfaces. These Clear Channel
> negotiations are very new and are underway in hundreds of cities,
> maybe yours. (check out http://bike-sharing.blogspot.com/)
> Mayor Bloomberg of NYC went to Paris and checked out their new city-
> wide bike-rental systems and wants the same in NYC.
> Hooray to more people using bikes! Hooray to greater interest in
> addressing the ills of automobile choked cities and environmental
> foolishness and overconsumption! Boo to "permanent sidewalk or
> vehicle defacement by ads touting the same corporate culture of over-
> consumption that got us in this mess" in the first place! (ie: Clear
> Channel advertising. The quote is taken from Steve Stollman, full
> text below.)
> Have you heard about this?
> Also bike activist Steve Stollman is selling a building in NYC, and
> wants to reinvest this money in real estate to buy buildings for
> community bike orgs, maybe yours! (ideally outside of the high-
> priced cities of NYC and Boston). He would then work to sell these
> buildings to the bike orgs over an extended period of time so that
> they eventually own their spaces. I've pasted some text about that
> in further below. If you're interested you should check in with
> Steve at SteveStollman at LightWHEELS.com
> -Arik
> Bikes Not Bombs
> ****************************************************
> From www.lightspeed.com, Steve Stollman, NYC
> ****************************************************
> Bike-sharing
> Handlebars and pedals make bikes into three-dimensional objects. If
> these protrusions can be flattened to the body of the bike when not
> in use, the vehicle is about 6" wide and much easier to both store
> and transport in the close company of other people. Current
> technology permits this modification to be performed safely and
> conveniently.
> There would need to be a large number of somewhat-identical bikes
> using variations of this simple design, with adjustable seat heights,
> to keep initial costs low while providing for the fastest and widest
> proliferation. At most times, these sturdy bikes will be fine. Buying
> a shipload will reduce their cost to such a low figure that a few
> months of advertisements, removable after all costs are covered,
> could finance the entire exercise. Ads for one month a year or less
> could finance ongoing top-level maintenance. If properly designed
> they can be free to use and possibly not need to be locked at special
> locations as current systems usually demand. http://bike-
> sharing.blogspot.com
> Permanent sidewalk or vehicle defacement by ads touting the same
> corporate culture of over-consumption that got us in this mess is not
> necessary. We can not afford to allow the bottom-line calculus of
> Clear Channel and the other billboard-industry giants, to decide for
> us how we share our bikes. Across this country, before this massive
> invasion of profit-driven, probably sub-standard systems take hold,
> Community-based bike collectives and other people-friendly
> individuals and organizations, including some local bike businesses,
> must begin to assume these responsibilities.
> This will not destroy the existing bike business, because shops can
> help create, maintain and upgrade the fleet continuously. Many people
> will want their own machine regardless, and far more people will be
> riding all the time. When seas rise so do boats. Paris today is a
> good example.
> A second system needs to be established, designed and built, which is
> comprised of unconventional vehicles, multi-passenger, weather-
> protected, electric-motor assisted, art-inspired and plain fun.
> Access to this fleet would need to be restricted and require credit-
> card id, GPS location devices, special maintenance and a fee-system
> to help pay for it. Some support should come from the government
> since it will provide many benefits to the public as a whole, the way
> other publicly-accessible transit systems ordinarily do. Self-support
> is ideal and achievable. This could enable a much more creative and
> adventurous effort than one sponsored by a corporation or government.
> It is also being suggested that all this be done in tandem with a
> local-neighborhood based, ambitious and creative system, for sharing
> rides and vehicles of all kinds. This facility can also accept tax-
> deductible contributions, some as valuable as cars etc., and generate
> income from the small fees earned for expediting these much needed
> various transportation-related companion efforts to reduce traffic.
> Anchored by a robust and growing community bike effort, a strong
> framework for positive change can be constructed. If a substantial
> decrease in the number of cars on the road is achieved this will also
> help in the improvement of roadway safety for cyclists and others.
> The soonest path to the safest and most appropriate and convenient
> system with the least expensive continuous operating costs, that also
> rocks, is the goal. The proliferation of these new forms of transport
> will also require the taming of our highways back into the streets
> that they were intended to be. We must demand civility and respect
> from large and dangerous Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)-Age
> vehicles, and the complete eradication of their people-unfriendly
> behavior. The reward for this change will be an historic flowering of
> enjoyable, human-scale, responsible and healthful transportation in
> our cities and towns.
> SteveStollman at LightWHEELS.com | 212 431 0600 | 49 East Houston
> Street NYC 10012
> *********
> Bikes and Property
> I want to invest my profit from selling a property in Manhattan to
> help enable 10 bike shops to establish themselves in their own
> spaces. Each will each be given an option to buy the space they are
> renting after a few years, to enable them to grow more rapidly and to
> own and benefit directly from the improvements they make to their
> properties and businesses. In some cases this would involve buying
> existing locations, in others it would mean finding a great local
> building for sale at a good price in a good location. (As each group
> is able to purchase its building, the money paid is made available to
> another group in another state so that they may be able to purchase a
> building etc...
> If this property investment methodology helps in bringing forth
> better means for bike store owners to control their own futures and
> expand their businesses, others may decide to invest this way as
> well. As mortgage credit tightens, the strength of this industry, in
> the face of $3+ gas and frightening obesity and diabetes rates, could
> entitle it to an alternate form of investment capital.
> There are many people today on every stratum of society who are
> starting to come to terms with the damage being done to a seemingly
> robust, but actually dangerously fragile, ecosystem. The central role
> of inappropriate transportation is conspicuous in that picture. They
> want their kids to be healthy, have a future and love them and they
> want to have a cleaner conscience. At the same time they want their
> investments to be sound financially. A program such as this could
> satisfy all of their needs, while giving bike stores some valuable
> additional leverage against overly-aggressive landlords, and a better
> shot at economic justice and self-determination.
> It is also my intention to use this opportunity to help gain more
> visibility through these stores for hybrid human-powered/electric-
> assisted vehicles, including safe, road-worthy and weather-protected
> wheelchairs. In an aging population, many stores may find this to be
> one of the most high-growth elements of their businesses and one of
> the most gratifying.
> Meanwhile re-defining cycling as basic transportation, not just a
> pleasurable, recreational activity, will help drive the
> infrastructure improvements that we so badly need. These upgrades, a
> flood of new and more utilitarian machines, and the dramatic
> increases in bicycle and other lightweight vehicle use that they will
> trigger, will finally begin to bring this vital activity its due
> respect.
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