Brno's Bike-Share Concept: Buy A Coffee, Get A Bike

A group of shops in the Czech city loans customers free folding bikes in exchange for a deposit of about US$16. The program's small size demonstrates that bike-sharing needn't be a big corporate-led endeavor.

What's the Latest Development?


A group of cafés in the Czech city of Brno is offering a unique bike-sharing program to its customers: For a deposit of 300 crowns (about US$16) a customer can borrow a folding bike for free. The bike comes with a lock along with a simple request to return it at the end of the day. It's small -- only five locations are involved -- but no thefts have been reported since the program's start last year. Organizer Pavel Bad'ura says he's been "pleasantly surprised" by the success.

What's the Big Idea?

Writer Feargus O'Sullivan says the Brno model could offer lessons for other cities interested in trying out bike-sharing. It's operated by local small businesses rather than a big corporation (such as Citigroup, which runs New York's Citibike program) and it doesn't rely on docking stations or special equipment.  Brno isn't a hot tourist destination, and it's not fitted out for lots of car traffic, which means locals could find the bikes useful for quick commutes around the city. O'Sullivan says programs like Brno's "demonstrate that even in places with little political might backing bike-share, the public appetite is still out there."

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