Offering cheap bicycles to people interested in ecological transport

Key Innovation
Repairing and reselling bicycles

Problematic background and context
The City of Turku has c.a. 170 000 citizens and is the so-called cultural centre of Finland. A huge number of the citizens are local and foreign students live in the city only during academic year. They are the group interested in ecological and cheap way of transport. On the other hand, there is a huge group of unemployed caused by number of immigrants. Many are unable to do some work especially in hard conditions of Finnish climate. They stay unemployed, get upset and distanced from society. Volunteer work sometimes is the only way to keep their skills or just keep them close related to society. Bicycle Flea Market is oldest and only one for the moment in the city, however others have tried to copy the idea. The idea is based on the fact that for typical citizen buying a new bicycle is cheaper than repairing the old one. There is also another point. Some people leave their bikes in common room when they move out of their block of flats. In few years’ time the number of left bicycles causes problem to store incoming ones. Many landlords decide to donate bikes to Uusi Tuuli ‘s Bicycle Flea Market.

Solution description
At the beginning it was an ordinary flea market where everything could be found, but wasn’t profitable. Then Pepe came up with idea of Bicycle Flea Market. Bicycles are taken as donations from people all over Turku City. Most citizens know it is the place they can come to give bicycles. Bicycles are stored in basement then, waiting to be repaired, or dismantled to spare parts. Volunteers work every weekday for 2-4 hours. Most of them are unemployed and work to not lose manual skills, keep personal relations. From time to time people sent by Unemployment Office come to work with bikes. Often they’re not dedicated to that work, however they are taught to use tools. Usually after 3 months’ period they go away taking new skills with them. Repaired bikes stand next to entrance in selling area. They wait for their new owner who gets month (or more) warranty buying one.

from 1990

Development phase
In Finland where bicycling is popular and bicycle prices high, idea of recycling bicycles is not new one and exists in most of the cities. However, using voluntary work is remarkable in Turku case.
The solution has been running well for 14 years now. It was successful from the beginning. The actors can’t point out any disadvantages except little ones.

Revenue/costs model
The main aim of Bicycle Flea Market is to make profit for maintaining the Estelle ship. – Flea market earns 10 to 15.000 euros per year, too little to pay even one person. – c.a. 75% of earned money goes to maintain Estelle ship, the rest is used for buying spare parts that are missing, and paying bills.

Social evaluation
People working in Bicycle Flea Market of Uusi Tuuli work for society and feel valuable part of it. They’re willing to learn and help to teach others. Fact that they don’t pay taxes might be seen as critical point.

Environmental evaluation
It propagates ecological transport and reduces waste.

Economical evaluation
Possibility of buying a cheap bike is important for many students in Turku city. It let them to save money on public transport, and commute in ecological way.

Ryszard Poniedzialek /University of Arts and Design-Helsinki / Finland