“Bike Bethlehem” is the unique bike share launched at BAPL in 2016. We often get questions about it from librarians around the country and beyond so we put together a little frequently asked question list below. We’re happy to share! If you have other questions, let us know!

Q: How did the bike share come to be?

A: The Bethlehem Health Bureau (our City Health Department) spearheaded the project. It was their idea to start a bike-share around the City and they reached out to us because (1) we are right next door to the Health Bureau (2) we are open more hours than they are (3) we are good at loaning things out!

Q: Isn’t it an insurance/liability problem? BIKE BETHLEHEM: borrow, ride, return

A: This is certainly a major consideration and a conversation that needs to be had with your insurance carrier. It may not work out in all settings, but here we were able to make it work with the help of our City and Solicitor.

Q: How long can the bikes be borrowed?

A: Just for the day. Bikes can be borrowed any time during the day but must be returned before the library closes on that day. So it’s not like a traditional bike share in that you ride it from point A to point B, with stops all around the City. You take it from here and return it here all in the same day.

Q: How do people check them out?

A: Riders just need to show identification. Minors (under 18) may not borrow a bike without an adult present. A library card is not required because we felt it was important that visitors to the area be able to use the bikes. Riders fill out a form each time they borrow the bike. There is a special form for minors.

Q: Do people sign a waiver at checkout as well?

A: Yes. See the example here. A waiver is an important piece with regards to insurance.

Q: Have you had any injuries among the bike riders?

A: Not yet, thankfully! If so, we will refer to the terms of the waiver regarding risk.

Q: Are helmets and locks provided with the bikes?

A: Yes. It is the law in Pennsylvania that children under 12 wear a helmet so we won’t loan a child a bike unless they have one or take one of ours. Adults have the option to ride without a helmet if they choose. If a rider does borrow one of our helmets, we just wipe it down and clean it before the next rider uses it. We have locks with a code we reset to a different number for each user.

Q: Are bikes examined every time they’re returned? Who services the bikes?

A: Library staff do a quick look for visible damage at each return. There is a service contract with a bike shop to do regular service. We also work with the Coalition for Appropriate Transportation here in PA. The terms of use require the rider to report any damage.

Q: What happens if someone gets a flat tire or has a mechanical problem with the bike while they have it checked out?

A: The rider is  responsible in getting the bike back one way or another (usually walking it back) to the library and we’ll take it from there.

Q: What happens if the bike is stolen or returned damaged?

A: A bike was indeed stolen while on loan. The police were involved and it was eventually recovered. Otherwise the rider would be responsible for the replacement cost as per the waiver.

Q: Who paid for the bikes?

A: The bikes were initially paid for with a grant from St. Luke’s University Health Network and maintained via a grant from the City.

Q: Is COVID a concern?

A: We stopped bike sharing for all of 2020 but felt safe to restart the program in 2021.

Q: What do people use them for?

A: Whatever they like! Running errands, getting exercise, exploring the City, just enjoying a bike ride. One time a theater troupe borrowed them for some sort of theatrical thing on bikes.


  1. Cyclists must be 18 years old, or older, with a valid form of identification. If under the age of 18, an adult must sign the waiver and provide a valid form of identification on the individual’s behalf.
  2. Cyclists must leave identification with the Bethlehem Area Public Library while bike is in use.
  3. Cyclists must completely fill out and turn in the Bike Bethlehem waiver every time they use the bike share program.
  4. Bike Bethlehem hours are subject to hours of operation for each given location.
  5. Bikes are to be returned in the same condition issued, at least 30 minutes prior to close.
  6. Cyclists are responsible for all undisclosed damages, including but not limited to: Lost or stolen bike, or bike parts; Flat tires, bent rims, broken spokes; Any damage that would otherwise render the bike inoperable
  7. Cyclists are required to report any damage to the bike during use.
  8. Cyclists not returning Bike Bethlehem bikes and equipment will be reported to the local police department.
  9. Bicycling activities involve risks and dangers of serious bodily injury including permanent disability, paralysis, and death. Bike Bethlehem assumes no responsibility for any injury resulting from the use of program bicycles.
  10. Cyclists are encouraged to wear helmets. Pennsylvania law requires bicyclists under the age of 12 to wear a helmet. Helmets are offered by Bike Bethlehem and are available upon request.
  11. Cyclists must obey all PA laws and regulations governing bicycles and their use. Pennsylvania Bicycle Driver’s Manual is available to view online.