I Want to Check Out This Book and Two Bicycles

Libraries expand their services with bike-share programs.

Enjoy the ease and convenience of checking out a bike as needed from your neighborhood library.

Although many people associate libraries with books, movies, and computers, many are surprised to hear that some allow you to check out bikes! While this isn’t always an available service, increased demand for community transportation has contributed to more bike-sharing spots and bicycle libraries. Here’s what you need to know about bike sharing, bicycle libraries, and how you may be able to check out a bike for yourself!

What Is Bike Sharing?

According to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), bike sharing refers to temporary bike rentals for about an hour or less. Some of these are technology enabled to track data about specific locations and areas that demand more or fewer bikes. Bicycle libraries provide very similar services, especially since they both serve members of the community. They tend to diverge in the allocation of the bikes along with the technology provided alongside checkout. 

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Bike Sharing vs. Library Bikes

As mentioned above, while bike sharing and library bikes share many similarities, there are still characteristics that set them apart from each other. For one thing, bike sharing usually requires a fee, while most libraries allow people to check out bicycles for free. Bike-share equipment also tends to come with more advanced technology, typically consisting of an onboard GPS. Library bikes are usually centrally located around the facility in which it was checked out. These will also be bikes that are donated and maintained by the library building itself. 

Finding Bicycle Library Systems

As the demand for more bike shares and libraries increases, these spots are becoming more common, particularly in smaller communities. Even if you don’t have a formal bike-sharing community or library around your area, the concept is nothing new. Even before smartphone apps made ridesharing more accessible, the idea of borrowing transportation equipment is something that’s been practiced for a long time. These conveniences are only expected to grow as more libraries offer community bikes to check out.

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Standout Bike Spots

The Winter Park Public Library lets patrons check out one of six tandem or cruiser-style bikes. Although users have to be over the age of 18 and two bikes are allowed per library card, they also give you a helmet to use upon checkout. Meanwhile, Putney, Vermont, established a bicycle library in 2007 called the Green Bike Project. The program was a huge success before eventually sunsetting in 2018.

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