Borrow an electric bicycle at the library

At Stapelbäddsgatan 3 in Malmö is the Cykelbiblioteket. There you can try to borrow an electric bicycle, a box bicycle or an assisted freight bicycle. According to Jesper Berséus (pictured) at the Bicycle Library, the idea is that once you get to try it is closer at hand that you start cycling more permanently. Sweden by Bike asked how it works. 

What is the idea of a bicycle library?
A little simplified is to get people to ride a little more often and a little longer. We already had a bicycle kitchen, which is a sister organization to the bicycle library where people can learn how to repair their bicycles, borrow tools, attend courses, but also arrange events to raise the status of the bicycle. Although we knew that so and so many visited our open workshop, it was difficult to prove that we were contributing to more and more cycling more and more. So when we got an environmental award from Malmö City, we put that money into starting the bicycle library. However, the major funding comes from the Swedish Transport Administration.

So you are lowering a threshold by lending bikes?
The basic idea is that if more people realize just how easy it is to get on a bicycle, not least in the urban landscape, more and more people will have bicycles as the primary means of transport. This in turn benefits the whole community in everything from better health, less carbon dioxide emissions, better air, more space in the city to building parks and schools and more. We understand that many people go around thinking that it would be interesting to buy a box bike or electric bike, and then maybe get rid of the car - (or 1 of the cars: /). But it is a big investment and many people think: "I don't know if I will actually use it enough to make it worth it".

What do you hope people will discover when they start cycling?
In the stores it is only possible to test bike, not to test what it really is to really live with an electric / box bike. Now people get the chance to test for 12 days in real life. They can see for themselves if they use it even if it is cold, raining or if you are late to kindergarten. In addition, it is also noticeable how much time you spend on having to look for a parking space, or money on not having to buy gasoline, or how much better you feel about commuting to school or work instead of sitting in a car queue.

But you are not a bike pool?
No, we are not a classic bike pool where someone borrows a box bike to move one afternoon. Rather, it is a test-on-tool where borrowers can find out if the electric / box bike is for them and we others can check out what happens to the community if we have a community infrastructure where it is possible to make good choices.

What reactions have you encountered so far from customers?
Very positive. Many borrowers cycle away lyrical, they have long wondered what it is like. Many people buy bicycles afterwards. And many who want to report interest in trying other models and types of bicycles. It can be seen that the interest in electric bicycles has increased significantly during the 2.5 years we have been open. Not least since the state subsidization for electric bicycle purchases has come about.

Something that surprised you?
We noticed that the target group differed slightly from what we expected. We had probably assumed that those who tried mainly were the slightly sporty type who had a little too far to work with a regular bike, or did not want to come across as sweaty. But not least a target group of slightly older people, who may no longer be able to ride a regular bicycle and therefore feel very determined to be dependent on only public transport, have been very positive about the possibility of cycling electric high. But then of course there are always some who find it difficult to rent, or that it feels unsafe to put their two children down in a plastic box outside the traffic. However, it is also positive for them that you can test, even if the result is that it does not feel safe enough.

Can we see more bike libraries?
Several bike libraries have already popped up, and are based directly on our model. Drammen in Norway and Helsingborg, among others. But there are also others who have started without turning to us for tips. Overall, there is also a great interest among those who are interested in sharing economy in general.

How is it practically possible to borrow a bike from you?
The bikes are rented out for 12 days and it costs the symbolic sum of SEK 100. It is possible to book from the website and choose which bike model you want to try and which period suits you best. It is almost always fully booked, but it is nice to also be on a reserve list if someone cancels or does not show up. Then the borrower picks up the bike on Wednesday night and returns Sunday the following week. When picking up, a loan agreement is written (read on the website) and a full review of how the bike works, security and how it should be locked. Then we send out a survey to keep statistics on whether people's cycling habits have increased and / or if they have actually bought a bicycle.

The Bicycle Library is a project operating under STPLN ( which is an NGO (non-governmental organization that wants to promote creative ideas). The Bicycle Library is a pilot project that is happy to receive study visits and is happy to share their experiences in different contexts. Operated with financial contribution from the Swedish Transport Administration.