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Do-It-Yourself Neighbourhood Bike Share 17

DIY Bike Share

Do-it-yourself bike share – Photo by Xander / 416CycleStyle.com

You won’t find BIXI bike sharing in his neck of the woods. In fact, BIXI may never cover his west Toronto neighbourhood. Instead of waiting, ‘Xander from 416CycleStyle.com set-up his own DIY community bike share system in his neighbourhood to provide his neighbours bicycles for hire:

“Since I had more bikes than I needed for my own family, I started opening up the use of the bikes to people in the neighbourhood who may not have a bike, or a child seat, or just needed something temporary until they got a bike of their own. We have a communal daycare at our house so it’s great exposure for the next generation of cyclists and It’s a great way to meet neighbours.”

Xander’s high tech bike share works on facial recognition. Bike share “members” ring Xander’s doorbell, and if he recognizes the member and knows where they live, he presses a button to open the garage door. The member then grabs a bike, uses it, and then drops it off on his front porch or back yard when they are done with it.

To become a member, a simple phone number/address exchange is usually sufficient (there are no fees). Members bring their own locks and helmets (if required), though Xander does keep some spares handy. If the bike gets damaged or stolen, no big deal – they just need to find another bike to replace it.

The idea was originally inspired by the 2010 Let’s Go Ride a Bike Summer Games task list:

  • Go on a group ride
  • Leave a nice note on a bike, or say hi to a cyclist at a red light
  • Schedule a bike date with a friend or partner — dress up!
  • Recruit a non-biking friend for a ride
  • Ride with your family

Xander comes from a large family and he wanted to supply his extended family enough bikes to do rides at family events:

“Through the multitude of garage sales and donations from neighbours looking to free up space I’ve been able to fix up and supply enough bikes and accessories for at least a family of 10 (including toddlers and kids.) I have yet to get a cargo bike, or a trail a bike, but that is next on my list.”

His DIY bike share gets a steady 10-20 shares per week. In addition to welcoming new families into the neighbourhood, the bike share system allows him to recruit some local high school students as future members.

There are currently 20 bicycles available for hire, and he spends approximately $25 on each bicycle to initially get it up and running. The system itself is revenue neutral however, since members usually end up buying the bicycle in the end, so the profit from the bicycle sale covers the maintenance costs.

Xander’s bike share system is more or less an extension of his website – 416 Cycle Style – where he posts stylish photographs of everyday people on bicycles. His site isn’t officially affiliated with Mikael Colville-Andersen’s Cycle Chic movement, but there are a lot of similarities, and Xander was invited to attend the Cycle Chic Blogger Conference currently taking place in Barcelona, Spain.

Xander’s DIY bike share system promotes a more liveable city by encouraging more people to use bicycles:

“For my community a bicycle can help to replace the little trips that are so often done by car. Especially since we do have bike lanes along our main corridor to schools and grocery.

The more that people in my neighbourhood are exposed to others doing their everyday tasks by bicycle, will help to promote a more liveable neighbourhood and city.

I know people are scared that their bike may get ,“Kenked” (this means ‘nicked’, ‘nabbed’ or ‘stolen’ in Toronto dialect) but the benefits of sharing an experience vs. sharing a bicycle far outweigh the drawbacks.”

Here are a few photos of Xander’s family and his bike share stockpile:

Xander's family

DIY Bike Share

DIY Bike Share

DIY Bike Share

Do-it-yourself bike share – All photos by Xander / 416CycleStyle.com

Xander has landed on something special with his DIY bike share. He is drastically improving his community in the short term, encouraging people to use bicycles as transportation in the long term, and he is directly improving his community and city in a large way.

If you have some extra garage space and are interested in starting your own community bike share, send me an email and I’ll put you in touch with Xander to give you some tips on how you too can operate your own bike sharing system.

It’s a great way to connect with your community and shape the path to a better future for your city.

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com.

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  • http://www.simplybike.wordpress.com Simply Bike

    What a wonderful idea! Way to go, Xander!

  • http://www.simplybike.wordpress.com/ Simply Bike

    What a wonderful idea! Way to go, Xander!

  • http://treehugger.com Lloyd Alter

    West Toronto is pretty big, can you be more specific?

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      Etobicoke. I believe he’s not too far from Bloor street at either Royal York or Islington.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      So I was a bit off, he’s a bit further west from where I thought (see Xander’s comment below).

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/treehugger.com Lloyd Alter

    West Toronto is pretty big, can you be more specific?

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    Etobicoke. I believe he’s not too far from Bloor street at either Royal York or Islington.

  • http://www.marlenjames.com Marlen James

    Hi James! Great article! Every community needs someone like Xander. He is not just another bike hoarder :P And he names his bikes! ( I still tease him about Medori)

  • http://www.marlenjames.com/ Marlen James

    Hi James! Great article! Every community needs someone like Xander. He is not just another bike hoarder :P And he names his bikes! ( I still tease him about Medori)

  • http://www.416cyclestyle.com Xander

    We moved from Ward 20 Trinity Spadina to Ward 3 Etobicoke Central 4 years ago. I’m hoping to bring the common sense city cyclist mentalityfrom my years in the city center to the surrounding areas. Not everyone needs to be a commuter or downtown town city cyclist. A bicycle is perfect for anything within 5 km from where you live. Schools, Groceries, Malls, Cafes, and restaurants are all within biking distance from most people. Toronto is a big city and yes the outskirts are different from the city core, However the need to get from A to B is a common link and with the different forms of available transportation sometimes the bicycle just makes sense. Its a simple thing sharing. We share food, clothes and shelter with our families every day. Why not a bicycle or two?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HC25OO7ZEX7PXHIAU6AP76YH54 Mandy P.

    Great idea! Good on Xander for putting such an initiative in place and thanks James for the profile. It’s inspiring to see projects like this. Small, local, personal services can have as much impact on individuals as large-scale city-wide ones can. Hopefully others in similar situations (unfortunately I’m not one of them) can follow this lead.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HC25OO7ZEX7PXHIAU6AP76YH54 Mandy P.

    Great idea! Good on Xander for putting such an initiative in place and thanks James for the profile. It’s inspiring to see projects like this. Small, local, personal services can have as much impact on individuals as large-scale city-wide ones can. Hopefully others in similar situations (unfortunately I’m not one of them) can follow this lead.

  • Aileen

    so this was what all those bikes were for! this is terrific. i love it. what a terrific way to share… yourself and what you love :)

  • Aileen

    so this was what all those bikes were for! this is terrific. i love it. what a terrific way to share… yourself and what you love :)

  • http://www.bes.co.uk/ plumbing

    Believe it out not, the aspirations listed above can be funneled neatly into two main types of riding called Road and Mountain Biking. For ever thing else in between, the Hybrid bicycle was created as a compromise between the two.

  • http://www.bes.co.uk/ plumbing

    Believe it out not, the aspirations listed above can be funneled neatly into two main types of riding called Road and Mountain Biking. For ever thing else in between, the Hybrid bicycle was created as a compromise between the two.

  • Damon Tolles

    Well this looks positively inspired! I have a friend that’s an
    inventor that i met at the park when he was playing around with a
    prototype of a small remote controlled car that he modified to get his mail for him. He’s a fun guy that has his quirks but he’s a blast to talk to.
    If he’s not building his contraptions in his basement he tells me that
    he has been fixing whatever is broken in his house. He tells me that he
    can do it himself but he does not want to give up on fixing it and use
    the parts for his contraptions. He tells me that he’s going to consult a
    great place that does garage door repairs in perth.