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'Bike libraries' are now a thing – for a greener future

Words by Tess Becker

Bike libraries across the US are now popping up – and they're giving more access to bikes (and greener modes of transport!) for all.

Great, where are they?

Places like schools and libraries are starting to make bikes more available, adding them to inventory. This means that you could rent a bike from a library, like a book or a movie.

This might mean the world to someone who needs better transportation than walking. 

So, what's the big deal?

When people are struggling to make ends meet, something as simple as a bike can make the difference between being able to make it to and from a job and not. It also provides more free access to bikes for kids whose families may not be able to afford them. 

Bike riding is largely stigmatized, often being associated with white men, but that can be attributed to a lack of access, as many decent road bikes starting at a few hundred dollars. 

How do I sign up?

A reporter named Grecia White has made a list of 35 programs, often tied to libraries, that offer free bikes from as far east as Massachusetts to as far west as California. More programs are popping up but it's a process. 

One place, in particular, the Madison Public Library Foundation in Wisconsin, has partnered with Madison BCycle an e-bike sharing company in the city whose parent company is Trek, a bike company based in nearby Waterloo, Wisconsin. As part of the partnership, anyone with a library card can check out a fob to access the bike-sharing spots in the city. 

“We have nearly two million visits a year in our nine libraries in Madison, so it’s a place where a lot of people are coming and going every day,” explains Tana Elias, Madison Public Library’s digital services and marketing manager.

“It’s an opportunity to choose to be a little healthier in your day-to-day activity. But also, if you haven’t ridden a bike recently, it’s a good opportunity to get out there and try it without making a huge commitment.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing and Reduced Inequalities.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs