Islabikes imagine project

I can’t remember where I heard about the Imagine Project from Islabikesbut It’s an interesting idea that I hope works out for them, rather than going the way that I fear it could…

The idea is to rent bikes to customers (especially for children) rather than sell the bike outright, for ownership. Here’s how they put it:

Ownership as we know it will become a thing of the past. Bicycles will be rented to the user, then when they are finished with they will be returned to the factory, refurbished and rented to another rider. This will prevent precious raw materials going into landfill.

It sounds smart. And nice. Especially with kids who constantly grow out of bikes for the first 16+ years of their lives. Why be left with a balance bike, or 16” wheeler or similar when it’s too small? Why buy and own it when you know you’ll only need it for a short period of time, at the end of which you’re left having to sell it on in attempt to make some money back? Renting and paying for a bike for as long as you need or want it sounds much smarter. But…

People like owning things. Possessing stuff. The idea of ‘renting’ can remove that pride of ownership, as well as making it feel like you’re constantly paying for something, clocking up constant cost, even when you’re not using it. And while it may actually end up being cheaper than paying upfront for something, that you’ll use just as much, or just as less, there is that odd piece of psychology that I think prevents us from feeling comfortable with the idea of renting and not ever actually owning.

I had the feeling with Streetcar and Zipcar. I get it when I ‘rent’ a downloadable movie rather than buying it ‘outright’. And for all my desire for the logic of locally sharing power tools, rather than ten houses on a street all having an electric drill that they’ve only used once, and with an HSS centre just around the corner from me, I’ve ended up buying all my own power tools.

Maybe it just takes companies like Zipcar and Islabikes to start changing our relationship with ownership. Having grown up in such a consumer focused and encouraged culture, the idea of not owning all my things seems a little odd. If also a little interesting.

Like I say then, I really hope it works out for them. This is one of those cases where I’m really hoping to be wrong. I love the idea of companies producing and consumers consuming less waste.