Want to sled AND help the homeless? There’s an app for that

Photo: David Stejskal / Rekola bikesharing

In recent days simple pink sleds have been grabbing attention in parks in Prague and elsewhere in the country. The snow gliders are chained up but can be accessed via a mobile app created by the bike-sharing organisation Rekola. Part of the largely symbolic fee goes to help the homeless. I discussed the scheme with Rekola’s Jan Střecha.

“We had this thing in 2017 and I knew that we had those sleds in our workshop, just lying around.

“So I was just waiting for winter to come and to put them into use in Prague and in other cities.

Photo: David Stejskal / Rekola bikesharing

“Then the winter came so I was like, OK, let’s do it.

“And in three days we were able to get the sleds and all the IT stuff ready to let people enjoy those sleds on hills in the Czech Republic.”

I’ve never even heard of a rental of sleds or snow gliders via an app. What has been the response?

“The response has been great. I think everyone loves it.

“Even Mr. Hřib, the Prague mayor, said it’s OK to go outside and enjoy the sleds.

“Because everyone is… I don’t want to say depressed, but everyone’s kind of feeling sad and lonely when they’re at home and now, when we can enjoy winter for a short time and just forget about what’s going on, everyone’s been loving it.”

I’m kind of surprised that people are renting these sleds – I thought every Czech owned one already?

“Usually when you have kids you do, but then usually they get stuck in the basement or something, or they break.

Photo: David Stejskal / Rekola bikesharing

“And especially right now – they have been sold out on the internet and you can’t buy them in normal shops – we were happy that we had some in our workshop.

“We said, OK, let’s use them.

“Because for example in Prague you have snow every four or five years and we think it’s really useless to buy a piece of plastic that you’re just going to have to stick somewhere around your house and then not use it again for four or five years.

“We thought of it of a sustainable option, instead of buying plastic sleds.”

And this project isn’t only here in Prague?

“Yes, it’s in all cities that we are in as Rekola Bikesharing. We are in Prague, Brno, Olomouc and České Budějovice.

“And there are I think around 50 sleds, altogether.”

I understand also there’s a charity aspect to this project, with some of the money [rental costs CZK 10 for 30 minutes] going to the Salvation Army?

“Yes, you’re correct.

“When we were thinking about it, lots of people in Prague enjoy snow and freezing temperatures and so on.

Photo: David Stejskal / Rekola bikesharing

“But for some people it’s not a good time of the year, so we connected with the Salvation Army.

“They have a project called Nocleženka , which is about donating money that goes straight to funding homeless people’s shelters.

“We are happy that our users have been so far donating quite a lot of money – I don’t have the exact amount right now, but we will see.

“It’s really good that people can enjoy the outdoors and also think about the fact that winter is not a great time of the year for everyone.”

This winter may be close to the end, or at least the very, very cold temperatures may be ending. The project seems to have been a big success – would you like to do it again in future?

“I would love to do it again in future.

“We’ll see if there is snow.

“We will have our sleds lying around so we will again make them available for sharing by people.

“Because, as we see, people are really enjoying the fact that they don’t have to buy their own sleds themselves.”