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Ideas to Roll With: Bike-Related Innovations We'd Like to See Flourish


Probably the most fascinating part about the bicycle revolution is the people behind the movement. Ideas to Roll With is a collection of innovations from the bicycling community that we'd like to see succeed and spread. Scroll down to find out more on bicycle film festivals, collective action, online communities and more.

Bikes for All
Across the world, people are working together to build member-owned, community bike programs, places where people can buy, sell, donate and build bikes. These hubs usually focus their energy on donating used bikes to those in need, but also typically offer other services like tune-ups, tool rental and DIY workshops. To find a bike cooperative near you, visit the International Bicycle Fund's Worldwide Directory of Community Bike Programs.

Bike Culture
Entering its ninth year, the 2009 Bicycle Film Festival (BFF) will roll into nearly 40 countries to entertain an estimated 250,000 bike enthusiasts. BFF was started in 2001 to celebrate the bicycle in all its forms and styles. The program aims to present a range of films documenting all aspects of bike culture, from bicycle jousting to Critical Mass. The program for the festival is different in each city, but usually includes bicycling games, art, mixers, film screenings and musical performances. Organizers kicked off the tour in Memphis in May and plan to visit cities in Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand before bringing it back to the States for the final screening in Florida. Check out the tour dates to see when the BFF might be coming to your town.

Youth Empowerment
Bikes for Books rewards youth with an opportunity to earn their very own bicycle through reading. Its premise is simple: read the required amount of books, earn a ticket, and be entered into a drawing to win a new bike. The more books read, the more tickets are earned and the chances of winning a bicycle increase. We love that the program encourages children to explore and expand their world -- through reading as well as through firsthand experience as they cruise around a neighborhood on their shiny new bikes. Talk about empowerment!

Crowdsourced Route Mapping
Getting from here to there on your bike can be a whole lot easier when you have a good recommendation from an experienced rider. If you're new to the bike scene, try out one of these collaborative mapping sites: Map My Ride, Bikely,, or search for a site specific to your area. These crowdsourced sites are helping the bike community connect, share information and collectively map out the best route. Jump online, then jump on your bike! Just be sure to add to the collective when you return.

Bike Activism
Bike activism groups are springing up as a way to marry bike culture with some cyclists' commitment to social causes. One great example is the growing non-profit Bike and Build. This domestic voluntourism org sends teams of cyclists on cross-country treks billed as part adventure and part social service. Along the way, they build affordable housing and educate communities. Participants are responsible for raising funds per mile, which are then dedicated to the affordable housing cause. A physical and mental challenge, its a great way of getting involved and in shape.

Collaborative Data Collection
To help make biking safer, we need to make it smarter. Enter Bikewise, a collaborative information site where bike commuters can log reports about thefts, crashes and hazards. In Seattle, Wash., the non-profit Cascade Bicycle Club collaborated with Worldhchanging ally Phil Mitchell to build the site as a place where people everywhere can share their experiences to make biking safer and more fun. The Bikewise team says that the reports will help them collect "good data on the things that sometimes go wrong."

Car-Free Communities
In a small, German suburb residents are pioneering a car-free lifestyle worth emulating. Despite how essential many believe cars to be -- especially for suburbanites -- most residents of Vauban say that the transition was easy and report feeling happier, healthier and safer without their cars. The community's experiment is garnering the attention of local governments around the world who hope to decrease their carbon emissions, improve their air quality, and prepare for a world without oil. In other cities, progressive leaders are tackling the issue one street at a time, by closing prominent thoroughfares to cars permanently, seasonally, or for weekend walk- and bike-ability celebrations.

This piece was written by Sean Conroe, Sarah Kuck and Christa Morris.

Image credit: MoBikeFed, CC License

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Don't forget about bike contrails, chalk trails bikes leave. They are an open way to crowd source safe bike routes without any expensive tech or effort involved. When someone hops on a bike the first time they can see where to go.

Posted by: Joe on 29 Aug 09

Great stuff.
How about a round up of the community organisations advocating for the bike?
Here in New Zealand CAN (Cycling Advocates Netowrk) has led the way for 13 years.

Posted by: Patrick Morgan on 2 Sep 09

Great stuff. Inspiring.
How about a round up of the community organisations advocating for the bike?
Here in New Zealand CAN (Cycling Advocates Network) has led the way for 13 years.

Posted by: Patrick Morgan on 2 Sep 09

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