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July 1999

Peddle Pushers

A new business plans to make Munich more mobile

It’s a business idea so simple, you’ll wish you’d thought of it first. Christian Hogl and Josef Gundel are the creative forces behind “Call a Bike,” which by summer’s end, will have all Munich on two wheels. Every city phone booth will be flanked by high-security netting containing bicycles. Potential renters will be able to phone (coin/card free!) into Call a Bike central, pass along credit card or bank account data, punch the supplied code into a lock-box and ride away. Rates for the self-powered transportation will be a DM 2 base fee and 3 pfennig per minute. Bikes can be returned at any telephone booth in the city. In equipping each bicycle with a traceable electronic lock, Gundel and Hogl hope to thwart theft, yet still predict a yearly 40-percent loss in hardware due to wear, vandalism and misappropriation. But the future looks bright for the young entrepreneurs. In a posting at their site the cycle loaners project profitability by 2001, when each bike is expected to be used 2.4 times daily. You may not have invented the leased wheel, but the next time you miss your bus you’ll be glad someone did.

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