Collingswood, New Jersey is one and a half miles by one and a half miles of small town that is doing what it can to be sustainable. It has a thriving farmer’s market. The local government encourages residents to recycle and compost, even offering inexpensive composters to residents. Several of the town’s many restaurants support local farms by using what they produce.
And now, Collingswood is starting what may be the country’s first small town bike share program. Town commissioner, Joan Leonard, is behind the efforts to make available bicycles to loan to residents who wish to bike around the town instead of jumping in their car to go short distances.
Joan did her research by reading about past programs in larger cities and found out what worked and what didn’t work. Frequently programs failed because of lack of money. So she found a way to take a way a lot of the financial burden of a program like this by acquiring bicycles from the local police storage. Any unclaimed bicycle that had been in storage for more than a year was donated to the program. She also got donations from residents who had bicycles sitting in their garages or basements that weren’t being used.
Volunteers are helping to fix the bicycles and paint them a neon green so that the bicycles will be recognizable as bike share bicycles. Volunteers will also be available at to help residents learn to fix their bikes to encourage more biking in town.
Those wishing to obtain a long term loan of a bicycle will only have to pay a small fee (perhaps $20 or $25) that is still being determined. People who are not regularly using their loaned bicycle are asked to return it to the program, and if the bike is still in good condition they will receive a $10 refund.
The goals of the Collingswood Bike Share program are to:
- Get bikes in the hands of people
- Help residents learn to fix their own bikes
- Help police with a registration program to identify bicycles
- Help the environment by getting residents to turn their cars on less
Collingswood is a pedestrian community. Everything is within walking distance and now with this program everything is within pedaling distance, too. There’s a high speedline that runs through the center of town and shuttles commuters throughout South Jersey and over the bridge into Philadelphia. Don’t be surprised if the bike racks at the speedline are filled with neon green bicycles in the near future and the parking lot is little less full of cars.
image credit: Wikimedia Commons