This MN town's bike sharing program works on the honor system – and it works

Austin, Minnesota's red bikes are back for a second year – and there are more of them.
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Red bikes are back in Austin. And this year there are more of them, in more locations.

The southern Minnesota town does bike sharing its own way, using a three-word slogan: Ride. Respect. Return.

There's no charge for using the red bikes in Austin, the Park & Recreation Department says. No time limit, either (although they ask you not to use them after dark).

Basically, you just go to one of the racks around town where the red bikes are stored. If there's a bicycle there, you're welcome to use it. Just return it to one of the red bike racks when you're done.

The Red Bike Program made its debut last year. It was wildly successful, according to KTTC, and this time around organizers plan to double the number of bikes in the program to 60. There will also be racks at nine locations, up from six last summer.

The bikes are all donated to the program. The Austin Daily Herald says volunteers spent 200 hours cleaning them and painting them red in advance of Thursday's big rollout. That's when they rode the bikes to the nine locations around town for the start of the new season.

Nancy Schnable of the tourism group Discover Austin tells ABC 6 News some people use them for transportation, but the red bikes are also a way to boost the local quality of life by giving families an activity that lets them enjoy a nice day and get some exercise.

And for visitors – yes, the SPAM museum does have a red bike rack.

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