Like to Bike?

Karta Healy, founder of the Bicycle Library, tells about his ambition to get people to cycle

Mar 29, 2012

The Bicycle Library and its founder, Karta Healy. (Image: by photographer Henry Thorold)

When we stumbled across The Bicycle Library, a lovechild of a bike shop and a book library that’s housed in a beautifully renovated bus (a second is in the works), we experienced a Eureka moment: How come nobody thought of this before?
We quickly emailed designer Karta Healy, founder of this innovative service, who told us about spreading his ardent zeal for biking among Londoners and about a bus named Maggie.  


What was the motivation to start the Bicycle Library?
“As an industrial designer I design cycling solutions for cities. I can see a real renaissance in cycle design these days, and want others to see this, be part of the growing cycling community. In a bicycle shop, there is so little space to learn and try out what will essentially be your new best friend. The Library makes it possible to make an educated decision on what type of bike suits your life in the city, and it also provides all the information and resources for cyclists in cities: free cycling lessons, insurance and even accompanied commutes to boost your confidence.“

How much are bike rentals?
“We hold seven types of city bikes and prices range from £5-£20 a day.”

Where is the Bicycle Library situated? Do you have a fixed location or do you move around?
“We are based in East London and move around Greater London according to our event schedule. This summer we will mostly be in the Olympic park promoting cycling to the world's press.”

How did you renovate the bus?
“She is called Maggie and she was originally a London Bus. She was working as a school bus outside of London until I gave her the new job as the Original Bicycle Library Bus. It has been a gradual refit using actual vintage library fixtures.”

Can you say anything about your clientele? Who do you approach?
“Our clients run the gamut from students and writers to mothers and executives. We approach venues whose audiences will be excited by this outreach, like the Frieze Art Fair to Barbican Film Festivals. We were even invited to Houses of Parliament last summer to set up our test track and give a seminar on cycling. We found that the bus appeals to all ages. Everyone turns into a bit of a kid onboard.”

Do you have regular customers?
“Yes, we have a fanbase that gather regularly for our talks, screenings and group rides. We always aim to reach new audiences, especially people that have never considered cycling. We want to encourage them to take to cycling.
One of our customers is a 27-year-old woman, who works in the Harrods book department. She’s so into books which is how she found us. When we first met, she didn’t even know how to bike. Now she rides regularly and volunteers to show others how easy it is to change their transport habits.”

Test it for yourself here: www.TheBicycleLibrary.com