Instead of borrowing books, a new program in partnership with the Newmarket Public Library allows residents to check out a bike for two weeks.
Newmarket Cycles is a recently launched community cycling hub running out of a storage container at NewMakeIt on Timothy Street. A couple of weeks ago, it launched its bike-lending library.
Using a Newmarket Public Library card, borrowers can come on a designated day and sign out a bike and a helmet. Each item has a designated number and the loan is tracked through the user’s card, which must be a full-access library card.
There is currently a fleet of 14 bikes available for borrowing, including some e-bikes, an adult tricycle, two youth-size bikes, and a smaller, adult-size bike. They can be borrowed for a two-week period.
“As long as the bikes are out there getting kilometres instead of dust, then we’re happy,” said Mathew Varela, program co-ordinator with Newmarket Cycles.
He said in the future there will also be locks, baby carriers, and half-bicycles for towing small children available.
The bicycle-lending program has been successfully implemented at their other cycle hubs such as Markham, but it is new to Newmarket. Already, Varela said, there has been a lot of interest, especially in the electronic bikes.
The goal of the program is to get more people out biking.
“We’re just trying to eliminate any barriers to cycling that we can. One of the biggest barriers we see is financial. So, if you can get a really nice bike for two weeks for absolutely free, zero dollars, then I think a lot of people will give it a try and, hopefully, adopt cycling into their life,” he said.
Newmarket Cycles isn’t as much about cycling for sport as it is about everyday biking and seeing how it can fit into people’s lives and routines.
“There’s hundreds of trips that we take that are less than five kilometres. If it’s just down the street from your house, then why not ride a bike? It maybe takes two extra minutes, it’s going to be way more fun and it’s kind of an adventure in the middle of your day instead of a monotonous drive,” he said.
The bicycle-lending program isn’t the only service the hub offers. It also holds DIY repair days when people can bring their bicycles to do some small repairs, get help from the volunteers there, or learn how to make fixes.
There are also group rides, which Varela said focus on “getting people more comfortable on the streets with their bikes and having fun at the same time.”
There are casual rides, which involve going around the area, or there are errand rides, which simulate an errand experience by bike, like getting ice cream or going to the store, so people can practise locking up their bikes or securing their items for the ride.
Varela said both are family friendly and he often brings his young kids and his in-laws.
The next bicycle-lending day is Aug. 13 at 10 a.m. at the cycling hub, located at 621 Timothy St.