November 2009 Issue
Bikes For Hire
“Would you like to borrow my bike?” is the question popping up all over Columbus’ Short North district these days. It’s being posed thanks to Everyonebikes, a new bike-share program that enables anyone in the area to borrow a two-wheeler to run errands, exercise or explore the neighborhood.
The idea for the program began when Short North businessmen Josh Quinn, owner of the trendy clothing boutique Tigertree, and David Hunegnaw of Sandbox, a co-op workspace, were brainstorming ways to improve their neighborhood. They’d seen bike shares in other cities, but knew it took a lot of infrastructure and thousands of dollars to get started. They decided the time had come to create a new model.
“We wanted to show that communities can effectively provide alternative transportation themselves,” says Quinn. “And that we can help our neighborhoods grow even amid shrinking tax dollars.”
Quinn and Hunegnaw devised a plan that is surprisingly simple: Retailers in the neighborhood buy a bike (the AfricaBike by Kona is the program’s approved model), put the Everyonebikes logo in their window, and wait for patrons to come in and borrow the cycles. In exchange, participating businesses advertise on the bike’s basket and are listed as project supporters on promo material. Borrowers sign a waiver and leave credit card information with the business to ensure the vehicle will be returned. Currently, there are 20 participating businesses and 30 bikes on the road, a number the duo expect will increase. Other neighborhoods in Columbus plan on joining the program, and Quinn has received inquiries about the model from as far away as England.
“This program,” says Quinn, “gives people a chance to see their city differently, and maybe discover new things.”