Mixed Signals: B-cycle Bike Sharing Checks American Dream Excesses

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.

The cornerstone of the American Dream is ownership—of land, a home, vehicles, and all the gadgets and tools that make living in America easy and comfortable. Companies have built upon this rock largely because it means a mighty profit for them. Advertising campaigns are crafted to whisper discontent sweetly in our ears so that we will be ever-seeking the latest and greatest the marketplace has to offer.

I speak as one guilty of listening and believing the discontent, for I have more than I need and still want more. As God has begun to put the brakes on my insatiable desire for more, my eyes are seeing the waste, and I realize how uncreative I have been in the allocation of the resources God has entrusted to me. I often look at what clutters my closets and shelves, and I know the same items clutter the closets and shelves of my family and friends. Why didn’t we just buy one for all of us to share? That would be much more creative. And practical.

Sharing is something that doesn’t come easy to us. From our earliest days, we want what we want when we want it. We didn’t want to share our Weebles with the other kids, nor do we want to share our lawnmowers that we use only once a week or the bread machines we use once a year (or never). But as adults—and even more so, as Christ-followers—we do not need to be ruled by the need to own. We can choose to share.

Interestingly enough, there are companies emerging that offer us the ability to share the things that we aren’t using every minute of every day. One company is B-cycle, which I discovered while visiting Boulder, Colorado. All around town I kept seeing these kiosks next to bike racks holding a fleet of shiny red bikes. I was curious, so I went to the Web and discovered that “B-cycle is a next-gen bike sharing system. In layman’s terms: B-cycles are there when you want one and gone when you don’t. Just swipe your card, grab a bike, and get to where you’re going.”

B-cycle gives people transport from point A to point B and a bit of exercise on bikes the users do not need to maintain. Using B-cycle also gives us good feelings of sharing and conserving energy, reminding us that we are part of something larger. Seeing the bigger picture reminds Christians that there is more to life than owning and the very act of sharing gives us the opportunity to engage in a world in desperate need of the redemptive story God is telling.

I say we support these share service companies who have found a creative solution to the excesses of the American Dream. Let’s be quick to share—our bikes, our bread machines, our lawnmowers, our Weebles. Most of all, let’s be quick to share the love of Christ. Sharing is a good thing.

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  • http://letseatgrandpa.com Cori

    Great post — I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I want to share more things, but as I’ve expressed this desire, I’ve found that it’s not that people don’t want to share, they just feel guilty using something they hadn’t personally paid for. It’s hard to feel “equal” when you’re borrowing someone’s lawnmower and you don’t really have anything they need to borrow in return. Even though this stuff shouldn’t matter, it’s kind of a balancing game in a way.

  • Ellis

    Thanks for this article Mrs. Straza! I loved it, and it offered a perspective i hadn’t considered before. thanks again!