Social enterprise and social problems

Social enterprise is a business model that prioritizes a positive return for society rather than profits. Being an enterprise allows the social good to be self-funding and sustainable. So what would a social enterprise have to do with bicycles? If we come together around bicycles in and for Elgin, we can create access to the knowledge, skills, and stuff that makes bike riding safe, fun, and functional right here in our own neighborhood.

But what social problems do bicycles address?

  • Affordable transportation: Did you know that "[the] typical American 'working' family works January through April just to pay for its cars. (Jeff Speck, on Parksify)" The car is a powerful tool, but it is also quite expensive and is not always the right tool for the job. Bicycles cost a fraction of what it costs to purchase, insure, maintain, and store a car.
  • European Cycle Federation infographic sourced from Bike Portland
  • Environmental harm: From the global impact of pollutants such as carbon dioxide to local air quality induced asthma from the broad spectrum of exhaust pollutants from cars and trucks, our everyday transportation decisions have an environmental impact. For those of us in urban areas making trips under 6 miles, bicycles can be a functional (and fun) substitute for work commutes, grocery getting, taking children to activities, and meeting up with friends. Pair a bike with transit and you can take on the world with a fraction of the carbon footprint.
  • Social isolation: It can be hard to get to know our neighbors when we slip out of the garage in our cars, head out for the day's tasks, and slide right back into the garage when the journey is done. Without the up-armored multi-ton shield of steel and glass, we can actually interact with our neighbors and neighborhood. Imagine getting to know what your community looks like when you are passing through it at the leisurely pace of 9 mph--fast enough to get where you need to go, but slow enough to appreciate your community and maybe even say "hi". Beyond a better pace for life, it can also be a social connection point is so many ways. Read more at #BikesCanSolveThat.
  • Obesity & lack of physical activity: The word epidemic gets thrown around in discussions of the United States and obesity. It is a public health and individual health concern for children and adults. The best solutions I have found to obesity and lack of physical activity involve full lifestyle approaches, like for example replacing your daily car commute with a bike commute. In bike circles it is often said that trading a bike in for car trips lets you skip the membership fee as you bike right past the gym. 
  • Traffic jams: Did you know that building more highway and road does not reduce congestion? More road capacity for cars just means more cars. Choosing alternatives (i.e. transit or bike) is the only effective traffic reducer. Getting on your bike gets you out of traffic jams and gliding through the quieter parts of your community and right on to your destination without any of that road rage (#BikesCanSolveThat).
  • Happy Fun Time: Bicycles are fun! Even skeptics of bike commuting think of bikes as a joy-filled tool of childhood. From the satisfaction of a wind swept ride to chatting with other riders, we believers know that it is also a joy-filled tool for adults too! There is even research that suggests it is the happiest form of transportation
So as Elgin Bike Hub gets rolling, we'll let you know how we can get enterprising together to do what we can to solve these problems together!


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