Bikes are a lot like open source.
With public source code and development processes, open source software puts the power of your software into your own hands. Additionally, it creates huge communities of support, testing, and development. Once you discover the beauty of open source, you find yourself wanting to use it everywhere. It's gotten to the point with me that I've even sought out open source hardware. Eventually it gets to the point, I think, where you want everything to be open source.
Bikes put the power of transportation into your own hands. Sure, bikes are fun and good for your health, but their mechanical simplicity makes them approachable to everyone. Additionally, their remarkable efficiency and utility make them appropriate for all sorts of things beyond recreation. Once you've experienced the freedom and joy of riding to the grocery store, you want to use your bike everywhere.
Thankfully now, I truly can. Thanks to Bike Friday's new Haul-a-Day cargo bike, I can bring nearly anything with my bike. With a standard cargo capacity of 200 pounds (upgradable, too!), a mere 32 pounds, and adjustability for everyone, it's practical for nearly every situation. Did I mention it's short enough to fit on a standard bus rack, hanging up in a bike train car, and even disassemble to make taking it with you a breeze?
I've hauled a harvest of quince to share (that's no small feat, I might add!). I've taken a huge load of unwanted electronics to the local recycling center. I've taxied my daughter and all of her stuff and my stuff to school. I've carried my spare bike home with me. Most interestingly, because it is so lightweight, I mostly use it as a normal bike.
Other people in the community of users have used theirs most for hauling kids (it's a nice alternative to a mini-van!), but there have also been such unique things as generating electricity and showing movies. In fact, those very ideas can now be yours with the Haul-a-Day Kickstarter campaign, along with everything from handmade cards to t-shirts.
We have turned to crowdfunding as a way to integrate the community into the development process and to allow for greater capacity to really stimulate major production. We manufacture in the domestic United States and that is great for our local economy but is not without its challenges. This boost will allow us to really propel the project forward. We met our goal a long time ago, but we're very close to meeting our 3rd stretch goal which will allow us to finish some oft-requested developments, including a trailer bike attachment and an electric assist option. Please contribute anything you can, even $1, as it's going to a good cause!
We don't necessarily have the bike design open sourced, but I believe that Bike Friday is a lot like any other open source community. It's full of users more than happy to volunteer their time to help others. It has an inviting and passionate group of project contributors (even though they all may work for the parent dcompany). It doesn't hide behind some corporate image, but is a real workplace of real people, where you can talk to someone, and where humble hoensty and transparency is a norm. Finally, it listens to its users, who often make their own modifications and experiments and document them for us.
We are also a company that values open source software, using FreeBSD and Ubuntu servers and Kubuntu on most of our workstations. Thunderbird, Firefox, and LibreOffice are all common applications we use on a daily basis.
Indeed, we know that open source can save the world. Bikes can, too. Now what if we put two and two together? What about an open source hardware electric bike kit? Or an open source mobile application that keeps track of your cadence? I'm shocked this isn't out there yet.
Actually, there are a number of open source bike things out there (to name a few):
- OpenSourceBikeShare and Open Bike Initiative are open source bike sharing systems
- Bike-Accessories is a repo of STL files for 3D printing bike accessories
- Bikey is an Android bike computer, but no cadence
- Arduino LilyPad Cyclocomputer takes that whole bike computer to artistic new heights
- Spokecalator Evo calculates spoke lengths for your new wheel build
- XYZ Cargo has a whole line of bicycles protected under Creative Commons licenses
- Bike Index is a really cool bike registration system
What's your open source bike idea?