For the past week I’ve been enjoying a cycling break in the Austrian alps, culminating in the Tre Dreilander Giro event on Sunday that saw a few thousand of us cycle 100 miles or so through Italy, Switzerland and back into Austria via such climbs as the Passo Stelvio. It’s been great to see the rising popularity of cycling in London in the past few years, despite the lack of any decent terrain to speak of, coupled with the dangerous traffic levels.
Despite the success London has overseen in that regard, there have been some fascinating projects undertaken in other cities around the world that London might want to take note of. Earlier this year I wrote about a property project in Brazil that saw a new bike delivered along with each property.
The bikes are said to be worth around $1,000 and the project is designed to work alongside the developers ambitions to act in a green and socially responsible manner.
A similar project is underway in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. The project, known as Testekklisterna, is offering residents of the city a free bike for them to use for half a year. The only condition of the scheme is that each recipient must ride the bike at least three times per week in place of their car.
As with many innovative projects, it was initially seeded with pilot users. 36 people were selected by the Energy Agency of West Sweden to launch the project and act as advocates for the scheme amongst their family, friends and wider social network. The initial group included a wide cross section of cyclists, from those using the bikes to commute to school and work, to parents using the bikes to go places with their young children. The aim of these initial users is to show just how diverse a means of transportation a bicycle is.
The project will operate in a similar way to the Cycle to Work scheme here in Britain, whereby you can purchase your bike at the end of the qualifying period for a discounted fee. The initial response to the scheme has been very positive, with all of the participants enjoying their move over to pedal power.
Hopefully the pilot period will prompt the organizers to roll it out on a larger scale. It’s a nice example of how civic institutions can take innovative approaches to modern problems, and if it gets more people cycling then that can only be a good thing.