Why Bike-Sharing Programs Are Good Business

by Gil Zeimer on September 21, 2011
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Amy Harcourt and Kurt Wallace Martin are life and work partners who’ve turned their passion for cycling into a consulting business. Bikes Make Life Better helps companies provide bicycle sharing and commuting programs for their employees.

We recently asked Harcourt why she and Martin launched the business, what challenges they face, and how they work to overcome them.

ISBB: What was the inspiration for Bikes Make Life Better?

Harcourt: The inspiration was moving to San Francisco without a car after living in the Midwest for decades and driving everywhere. Kurt and I suddenly became bike commuters and thought, “What if we could help more people do the same?” We decided we could help the greatest number of people by supporting employees of large companies, so we formed our bike consulting practice.

What size companies do you target?

We focus on large corporations and organizations that care about alternative transportation, employee wellness, and sustainability. While most of our clients are in the San Francisco Bay Area, we can work with companies anywhere.

What kinds of problems have you encountered?

Some companies are worried about the liability and risk-management issues of offering a bike-sharing program to their employees.

How do you overcome this?

We researched best practices in cities, universities, and companies around the country to find proven solutions. Our combination of the right kind of liability insurance, safe-cycling training and education, quality bikes and equipment, secure parking, and overall program support satisfies even the most conservative companies.

How do you customize bikes for your clients?

We start with our clients’ objectives. What type of bikes do they need — city bikes, folding bikes, road bikes, or mountain bikes? What should they look like? Maybe they want a bike that’s branded and promotes their business. Or a bike that’s cool and easily recognizable. Once we establish this, we source the best bikes and accessories, do several design mock-ups and then ultimately produce a prototype.

What do you love most about your business?

I’m doing something I completely believe in and feel like I’m actually making a difference.

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