I got this rusty old bike last year to ride around NYC. Tried to be economical, but ended up kinda annoyed by this squeaky, heavy, rusty thing. Yes, I wanted a bike with a personality, but then again, getting from A to B was important too. So I decided to upgrade to a new, fancier bike.
But what to do with this old heavy thing? Most people would just lock it up somewhere and watch it go through a slow death, it seems. But I don’t like to throw garbage around like that. As a matter of fact, it’s not garbage. Yet. This bike will get you from A to B still. If you have some patience. Also, it’s hard enough to find bike parking in NYC, so I wouldn’t let my bike steal valuable pole space either. Sell it, then? Wouldn’t be worth the trouble.
Then I remembered what my thesis area of exploration is. Collaborative consumption. Ownership vs. access. Why not set my bike free for the public to use, and see where it goes? Granted, a small experiment that actually would lead to a bit more trouble than just selling it. But to not try the idea out would be a wasted opportunity, right?
The idea came to me the very day I was traveling back to Norway on vacation. This meant I could involve my Mom and her wonderful laminating machine in the project! OhCarolBike was born:
I don’t really know why OhCarolBike became the name, but I figured all riders could have this happy song in their head while riding:
And no project without an online presence. Inspired by the “Yes I am Precious”-bike, I decided to let the bike communicate to the world. But instead of letting various sensors tweet Carol’s story automatically, I want the users of the bike to tell the story. By using Twitter, users can tweet Carol’s story and her whereabouts using their own twitter account and writing on the format:
@ohcarolbike: [write the story from Carol's perspective]
If @TwitterUserX writes:
@ohcarolbike: I had a lovely ride in Prospect Park. Abandoned on Vanderbilt ave. That pizza from Amorina smells yummy!
Then @OhCarolBike writes:
I had a lovely ride in Prospect Park. Abandoned on Vanderbilt ave. That pizza from Amorina smells yummy! (@TwitterUserX)
This is done by using twitter search, hooking it up to Yahoo Pipes, doing some find and replace to change up the tweet (check this tutorial), then using TwitterFeed to feed the tweet into @OhCarolBike‘s twitter account. Unfortunately this has about a 2 hour delay right now. Looking into why that is.
In addition, @OhCarolBike will retweet whenever anyone is talking about her (#ohcarolbike) or to her (@ohcarolbike) by using the same procedure as above. This retweet is not delayed for some reason.
I just picked up my new, fancy bike today at Ride Brooklyn. They were very helpful with the final details for Carol as well- getting the neon orange flag antenna mounted on her so she’s visible from afar. Then Carol and my new Linus Dutchie said hello and goodbye, before I left Carol behind on Bergen street all alone. Hope someone will notice her, read her story on Twitter, and continue it by riding and writing about it.
Maybe it will inspire others to set their old bikes free as well? The idea of “Set your bike free”-kits definitely appeals to me (thanks, Tina!). But then again, it requires a bit of work and some bucks to get the bike ready for the public, so. I don’t know if the biocost for the average old, rusty bike owner might be a tad too high, compared to the efforts required to just leave the bike locked to that pole for all eternity…