Told ya so: Rental bicycles finally catching on
Rental bicycles, popular in Copenhagen, are catching
on in the U.S., increasing quality of life and real estate values.
I just love it when I’m ahead of the curve even if it only happens once in a while, so excuse me for tooting my own horn. In October of 2005 after returning from a trip to Copenhagen, I wrote the below column about their system of city bikes and how I believed Anna Maria Island was the perfect place in Florida to launch this idea.
Well it seems that it took $4 a gallon gasoline to get this in motion here in the U.S. This month Washington D.C., is initiating its own city bike system and calling it Smartbikes. Instead of the coins used in Copenhagen it has streamlined the method using credit cards for the annual fee and a key card locking system. Nevertheless, a good idea is a good idea, even if it takes three years. Here it is.
This is a column about bicycles. You may be wondering what bicycles have to do with real estate, but before you turn the page to try and figure out what your house is worth this week, hear me out.
We all know that riding bikes is good exercise, good for the environment, easy on the pocketbook and overall enhances the quality of life. If the quality of life for everyone in a particular area goes up, then the inevitable outcome is an increase in the desirability of the area. Starting to see where I’m going with this?
This translates into higher real estate values, since everyone wants to live in an area that has a high quality of life – I can’t believe that some ivy league think tank hasn’t done a study on this yet.
If you ever visited Copenhagen, you know that you’re as likely to be run over by a bike as a car. It seems like half of Copenhagen commutes to work on bicycles encouraged by dedicated bike lanes and the Danish love of exercise. In an effort to improve some of the vehicular problems typical in large cities, Copenhagen has made a fleet of approximately 2,500 city bikes available to rent. The bikes are parked at designated areas around the city and are released from their locked bike rack by depositing a 20 Kroner coin (about $3.20). You can then use the bike for as long as you wish, return it to any designated rack and get your 20 Kroner coin back. The program was funded partly by selling annual corporate sponsorships in return for advertising on the disk wheels and other areas of the bike.
If Anna Maria Island isn’t the perfect place to start a city bike program, I don’t know what is. The success of the trolley has proven that visitors and residents alike are open to change. Adding city bikes into the transportation mix would give everyone another transportation choice, you could even double dip by putting the city bikes on the trolley for longer excursions. The tourists will love it; not only does the Island offer a free trolley to get around, but you can also ride a bike at a very nominal fee during your visit. The marketing possibilities are endless.
Call me crazy, but I think this is an idea whose time has come. If they can do it in cold and dark Copenhagen, we can sure do it in warm, sunny Florida – and just wait till you see what happens to real estate values.