The velorution will not be televised…

The sun is shining in London town. After possibly the coldest winter in memory, there are signs of a feel good factor emerging…Whilst the global recession may not be coming to an end, at least we’ll all be able to enjoy being unemployed basking in the sunshine! You always know that summer is coming when the journey into work gets busier with cyclists. I rode in for the first time in a while having given my bike a check up at this great store round the corner from Engine towers. It’s completely different from your usual Evans Cycles or Cycle Surgery and sells totally unique looking bicycles. It’s called Velorution and I think it’s great. I think of it as selling more a way of life than a mode of transport – although they are both obviously inextricably intertwined… I found this blog on London Cycle Chic which I think is really smart too.

 

I love the idea of cycling being intertwined in our way of life – for London to be like Amsterdam with people of all ages and sizes getting to where they want to go on bike. As such, I really enjoyed finding out about Alex Bogusky and his cycle sharing scheme. When Bogusky from Crispin, Porter and Bogusky fame moved the firm from Miami to Boulder, they saw an opportunity to make a difference by getting a few cars off the road and introducing a bike sharing scheme . The result of their endeavours was a campaign called B-Cycle. B-cycle looked at the introduction of bike sharing to Paris (Velib) for inspiraton. 20,000 shared bikes in the streets of the most spirited city in the world changed the face of Paris – overnight. CP&B partnered with health care company Humana, whose vested interest in health and exercise made them an ideal collaborator, and then tapped Trek, longtime client and friends of the agency, to design the bikes.

Start the velorution...

Start the velorution...

 

So how did it work? Well, they designed a system that collates the bikes into sleek solar-powered stations. Trek designed a custom one-size-fits-all bike that’s extra-rugged and handles repairs through their dealer network. To ride, you simply swipe use your B-cycle membership card to release the bike and you’re off.

So, that is all very interesting… But now we come on to what I think is definitely the best bit. Bogusky reckons that a large city requires $1.8 million a year investment to maintain it. Paris’ Velib system is actually manged by outdoor advertising company JC Decaux and funded predominantly  by would be billboard advertisers. Bogusky thinks this program is even more sustainable because their bike system is made for ads: The front basket of the bike is a TV sized surface ideally suited to brand messages. Plus, as it is new, they are sure to attract more attention than conventional media sites. They think they’ll be able to give away the first hour and a half of rental free to encourage people to use it…What a result that would be…

 I think this is a great model whichever way you look at it – either from the point of view of an advertiser or a consumer. I love the fact that advertising sustains an initiative designed to enhance the lives of people in a city. It was great cycling in this morning. there was a genuine sense of community with people talking to oneother at traffic lights. Give me an early morning endorphin rush over yet another tube crush any day of the week. We need a similar system in London now…

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