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Bikestation: Growing US Cycling One Bike Spa at a Time

by Nadia Hosni

Our progressive and environmentally aware neighbors across the pond have been peddling for years. Take Amsterdam for example, the city is known for its two-wheeled transportation system, powered solely by human energy. In fact, of the 750,000 people who live in Amsterdam, over 600,000 own bicycles. As traffic, pollution and scarcity of parking spaces increases across the US cities, Americans are finally getting in the saddle more often and Bikestation is making it easier.

Bikestation partners with city governments, developers, or nonprofits to design, build, and manage bike transit centers to make bicycling more convenient, safe and accessible. If you have never seen one —‚these places are pretty impressive — locations offer indoor secure digital storage for bikes, a service area for repairs, clean bathrooms with showers and lockers — it's like a mini bike spa. You'll find these are generally located at transportation hubs where commuters most need them. For a full list of locations see Bikestation's website.

While on vacation in Europe, founder, John Case, was struck by how bicycle-friendly the city was and how the infrastructure really enabled bike commuting and alternative transportation. He started thinking about what it would take to shift US culture to make bicycling a common and feasible form of transportation for people. After returning to the states he researched what was done in other countries and realized that the key was creating infrastructure that promoted the use of bike transit. Case also identified that the key obstacles to bike transit for people were inconvenience and fear of theft. He built the first Bikestation in his hometown, Long Beach, Calif., near City Hall and the Transit Mall. The goal of Bikestation is to address the issue of the "first and last mile" — the distance between public transit and the destination that may be too far to walk but close enough to bike, enabling more people to use mass transit and bicycling, rather than driving. Originally founded in 1996 as a nonprofit organization, Mobis moved to for-profit status in 2009 and continues to maintain a nonprofit arm for its educational mission.

In June 2010 Mobis / Bikestation was named one of the "25 Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs" in Bloomberg Businessweek in their second annual roundup of sustainable businesses that create social or environmental value alongside profit. According to Andrea White-Kjoss, CEO of Mobis Transportation/Bikestation, "Bicycles are one of the most under-utilized resources in the US. There are more bikes than households, but due to fears of theft and inconvenience people leave them in the garage except for recreation. Bikestations overcome these objections and get the bikes out of the garage for transportation, allowing people to cycle the first and last mile to and from public transit. Bikestations help make public transportation work, reducing the need for car parking and getting automobiles off the road."

Bikestation / Mobis Transportation is also a certified Benefits Corporation scoring high in areas of accountability, consumers and employees. It's a good thing they are making the right choices as a company because they are growing by leaps and bounds. There are 14 Bikestation locations in the US and they plan to open as many as 200 more in the next five years making it even easier to take a ride.

Editor's Note: Bikestation was also featured on Worldchanging's Seattle blog last year, but this story (republished from Tonic) provides a good update on the company's expansion and recent accolades.

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Great concept. I work with many cyclists, due to leg length inequalities. We help them for performance during racing, but I will pass this info along to the community. Tampa is in the midst of public transportation debate, and not known for being bike friendly. Tampa chiropractor

Posted by: Cy Esse on 31 Jul 10

I wonder if BikeStation knows about Traverse City Mi? We have a very bicycle friendly town here. Paved trails along the Great Lakes and thru-out the town.

Posted by: turbotax on 9 Aug 10

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