Free the Bikes!

What is the service?
There are a huge number of dead bikes lying around in the city of Copenhagen and we discovered that the current system for getting rid of bikes proves to be very poor. This revolves around issues with the frame-number attached to every single bike.

We designed a service that helps Copenhagen citizens release their frame number – donating the bike to the community.

What you do:

  • Register your bike frame number online at a secure database
  • To release your bike: fill out the release form (digital or on paper) and put the sticker on your old bike: this is evidence that the bike is legally released and can be taken by anyone. The sticker is watermarked and connected to your ID.
  • Reuse: Check the frame number of a bike with the sticker you found in the street. You do so by sending an sms to the Free the Bike Foundation. If the bike has been released, you can take it and give it a second life.
  • Recycle: take the bike to the recycling area in your backyard or in the city collection spots. R98 recycling service will pick them up there.

Why is it valuable for the people who use it?
Copenhagen citizens will have a better way to manage and reduce the number of old/unused bikes that are currently lying abandoned all around the city.

What are critical success factors for the service?
DSB and the travellers will co-create the project. We want to facilitate and enhance a bottom up approach, where every user can take action personally in a really easy and accessible way, reusing and recycling bikes more. This will create a snowball effect with long-term results, that’s why DSB is a crucial partner to ensure the longevity of the project – they will benefit from cleaner DSB stations. There will be more parking space for bikes and importantly, the Municipality and Police will save a lot of manpower.

What are your insights on working with experience prototyping?
The experience prototyping started very early in the design process, which was unusual and gave unexpected results. The people we prototyped with literally moved the project forward and we co-designed with them in an effective way. With this prototyping we felt that the issues and the users shaped the project rather than us as designers, which we felt gave a very precise solution to a specific problem.