An innovative project that allows cyclists to earn as they pedal, using their wheels as advertising space, has been successfully piloted in Frankfurt. Are you are a regular bike rider? Then this cool new initiative can bring you some cool new cash. Read on.
Bikuh is an innovative social enterprise that incentivises cycling, and its positive environmental and public health spin-offs, by connecting cyclists with advertisers. Anyone from the age of 16 can earn as they pedal via Bikuh.
Once signed up through the website, cyclists can decide which organisation they want to promote; once the chosen advertisement disk has been installed onto their bike - through a Bikuh partner - all they have to do is simply ride their bike for a minimum of 100km per month, within a specified area (generally within built-up and urban centres, rather than suburban and country roads where the advertisements' reach is likely to be smaller) in order to receive their 20 cents/km, paid directly into their bank account at the end of each month.
A smartphone app records the distances covered, and ensures that cyclists are paid for their legs' work. Cyclists commit to their chosen advertiser for three months at a time, after which they can either sign up for another three months, or chose another brand altogether. (the redundant advertising disk is returned to Bikuh, to be reused).
The app's innovative analytical tools provide businesses with (anonymous) data about their ads exposure, i.e. where they are being seen, or where and for how long bikes are parked. Granted, for some cyclists this might be a turn-off, although anyone with a smartphone is potentially trackable anyway.
Who can advertise via Bikuh?
While businesses with a sustainability ethos are of course a great fit for Bikuh, the beauty of the initiative is that it can engage any business into more climate-friendly practices, by encouraging people to cycle more. Indeed for Angela, co-founder of Bikuh, this is a key aspect, in that a business can still have a positive environmental impact through Bikuh, even if that was not necessarily its main focus.
She explains:“Basically we do not have too many restrictions when it comes to companies/products that we allow or not. Obviously we will never accept hate speech advertising, ads that promote violence, war or weapons... But other than that our bike riders choose who they want to ride for. They have free choice. If an advertiser starts a campaign and no bike riders want to ride for them, than it shows that there are clearly things they need to think about.”
What's happening next?
The Bikuh app is currently being developed, and is due to hit the stores by end of March 2017. This will make it easier for the project to scale-up and manage not just its businesses on board, but its geographical reach. Apart from new campaigns planned for April 2017 in Frankfurt, the plan is also to bring Bikuh to Berlin and other major German cities.
During the pilot in Summer and Autumn 2016, over 100 bike riders were active (with thousands having signed up for it), and three advertisers were on board: a bike store, the City of Frankfurt, and Frankfurt's public transport operator TraffiQ, although many more companies were keen to take part.
The initiative, which is supported by Climate KIC and the City of Frankfurt, does seem to be win-win: whether you are a hardcore cyclist earning extra cash for something that you would be doing anyway, or whether like me you are someone who likes cycling but needs a little push every now and then, healthy and sustainable behaviour is rewarded.
Plus, as it redirects some of the advertising industry's money to us the little people, the project does seem to promote a more democratic form of advertising. Indeed, to some committed cyclists their bikes are a little bit like an extension of themselves, so they may not be keen to promote just any company.
To keep abreast of any developments where you are, you can register here.