23rd SUSTAINABLE WAVE-LETTER
1. Bikes (and bikers!) are taking over
2. BikeSurf in Berlin
3. Sustainable Couch experiences:
Surfing Fernanda's couch in Santiago - Chile
1. Bikes (and bikers!) are taking over
In the last newsletter we presented the story of Francois, who cycled over 20.000 km from Holland to India. Also this time bicycles are the main topic. Not alone, of course, but together with the bikers who ride them. Bikes are much more than a object. They are a growing (sustainable & healthy) status-symbol and a clear statement that there is an alternative to noisy and polluting means of transportation. That's why we are happy to present a detailed article about the creation, the present activities and the future plans of BikeSurfBerlin. And to invite you to surf & bike with Fernanda in Santiago de Chile. To conclude, as the guys of BikeSurf say:
"Two legs good, free wheels better" :-)
"When it comes to getting around in a buzzing metropolis, nobody can refute that, in terms of sustainability, cost-effectiveness and health benefits, and often even speed too, no mode of transport trumps the bike. But in such a bike-friendly city as Berlin, budget travellers might be surprised to learn that renting a bike for their one-week stay will cost as much as buying one second-hand.
Spotting this incongruence, around May 2012 Graham Pope and Pau Simo, two magnanimous Berlin expats and bike enthusiasts, began wondering if there was a solution, and by July they were handing out their first bikes to CouchSurfers passing through Berlin. Shortly after, the bikes were being handed back with a smile, a hug, perhaps a beer or dinner or often a small, voluntary monetary donation to be used for sustaining and expanding the project. This exchange – a bike in return for some token of appreciation – came to be known as BikeSurfBerlin.
Today, the process goes like something this: You send a request via our request form on our blog. We read the request and then check the bike’s availability on the calendars. Then, using the information on your BeWelcome or Couchsurfing profile, determine whether we need to meet you before giving you all the information concerning the collection of the bike. By using these hospitality clubs' trust systems, we have had no need to take any deposit for the bikes we lend out. Trying to make this project as non-monetary as possible has been our philosophy from the start. To further convenience the system for the BikeSurfer we use combination locks, meaning the bike can be picked up at any time if a meetup is not possible.
Since the initial two, we have grown to 10 people who help organise, promote and develop the project. We meet regularly to discuss how to improve efficiency and spread the word, and to consider any other decisions that need to be made. As a wider aim we also try to promote cycling not just as a leisure activity enjoyed only in a forest or around a lake on a warm Sunday afternoon, but as a lifestyle choice and a means of getting from A to B at speed, while causing minimal damage to the earth and one’s wallet and becoming fitter in the process. We want people to see how much more beautiful and enjoyable Berlin is – any city, in fact – when viewed from the saddle. We want to spread the spirit of cycling and inspire people to bring the BikeSurf project to their own cities.
It is indeed a time-consuming task to maintain a system which now has a fleet of 14 bikes, but there is no doubt that we get much more out of running the project than we put in. Apart from having such delights as a traditional Nepalese meal prepared for us as a thank- you, seeing people riding away on our bikes and knowing that we are facilitating a whole new Berlin experience for them is heart-warming to say the least. Any regular user of hospitality websites will agree that karma is the most satisfying reward.
Organising events for bikers has proven to be thoroughly rewarding too. The most notable event we have organised so far was our own mini “Critical Mass” where we got a big group together on bikes and cycled around. Not only did this event take place on a cold day in November, but we even had two brave Americans on their maiden voyage by tandem bike. We explored some of the more attractive cycling spots in Berlin, including the abandoned Tempelhof airport. Later, we printed the BikeSurfBerlin logo on t-shirts and other apparel and Vincent, BikeSurfBerlin’s resident bike mechanic, held had a puncture repair workshop, allowing everyone to help us with the amassing punctured tubes we had gathered over the previous few months.
For those of you who like numbers, we’ve had 162 people borrow our bikes for a cumulative 1435 days to date, and based on a typical 7€ per day bike rental price, we’ve saved BikeSurfers 10045€. We’ve invested 610€ of our own money and received 367€ in donations. In an effort to be as transparent as possible, we keep all our finances online for all to see. These can be found on our “Stats” page on our blog, bikesurfberlin.blogspot.de.
It took quite a lot of time to organise this project, especially at the start. As we had no other project on which to base our own, the system we used was continually being honed and took a lot of trial and error to attain its current state. We are more than happy to share the system we have developed as it is easily adaptable to a similar project elsewhere. With this in mind, we are currently developing a website, bikesurf.org, which will act as an umbrella site for all the new BikeSurf projects throughout the world. We have produced a “Setting up your own BikeSurf Project” slideshow that can be found on the “Help us” page on our blog. We will answer any questions you might have about it all. The system and tools that will assist you in creating your own BikeSurfWherever are there, waiting to be used.
Two legs good, free wheels better.
Follow BikeSurfBerlin on Facebook.
3. Sustainable Couch experiences
An invitation from Fernanda to surf her couch in Santiago - Chile:
Hola! My name is Fernanda and I am a student in Santiago de Chile, a city with a lot of attractions but also with a lot of noise, rubbish, smog, segregation, consumerism and traffic. When I hosted Massi around one year ago, we students were on strike trying to change our educational system. You could think Chile is still part of the "third world", but I believe that we are in a period of big change. There is a part of the citizens who want to improve things and I am on this side. My action is based on the idea of living in a more sustainable way. Many people think this is not possible in Santiago but I believe it is. And I would like to show it to my next guests. We can go together to the Critical Mass - which takes place on the first Tuesday of every month starting from Plaza Italia - to fight for more space and rights for the bikers. I always go by bike and even if I don't have an extra one to lend, I know where to hire them. I have recently become vegetarian and I can show my guests where to buy fair-trade food. You can come to yoga classes with me, which here cost less than 2 US dollars. Last but not least, I can show you my city and together we can find ways to improve it a little bit, step by step."
Take action, start now!
Sustainable Couch Team
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