As distances within a space habitat will be rather small, only a couple of kilometers in most designs , bicycles will be an excellent mode of transportation for space settlers. Promoting cycling will also have environmental and public health benefits.
A public bicycle system or PBS would be a way to promote utility cycling. One advantage of such a system is that visitors from other space habitats won’t need to take their own bikes with them.
Types of bikes
A public bicycle system could in addition to “traditional” bikes also offer:
- freight bikes
- tricycles for the infirm
- tandem bikes
These types of bikes are usually expensive and most people only need those occasionally. Hence a PBS would be an affordable alternative.
Like any other public service a PBS needs to funded in one way or another. In order to both keep public bikes affordable as to reduce reliance on taxation, we propose the following sources of funding:
- Sponsoring by local businesses
- Volunteers for maintenance
- User fees
As bicycles are very visible in public places, they offer a good opportunity for advertising. Similarly to public advertising in general, we would prefer bikes to be sponsored by local businesses to support the local economy.
Volunteers for maintaining the bikes could also keep operational costs low. They could be rewarded in kind, for instance by offering a day of worth of user credit for one hour of volunteer work. Or they could be rewarded in some other way.
A small user fee could be necessary to fully cover all expenses of a public bicycle system – though much will depend on the “success” of the other sources.
Interior of a Bernal sphere (source: NASA)