Mistakes and misunderstandings concerning the price of Copenhagen’s new city bikes have overshadowed the debate about the possibilities offered by the new bike. That is a shame since the city bike is a perfect fit with recommendations from The Congestion Commission and Minister of Transport Pia Olsen Dyhr’s visions for more and better cycle traffic. Because Copenhagen’s new city bike is much more than just a bicycle.
We have chosen to call our city bike ‘intelligent’. Maybe a small exaggeration, but when used, the city bike solves a string of transport issues in an intelligent way. The city bike is the fast link between bus/train and home/work. The city bike is integrated in the collective traffic and the mesh of the collective traffic network becomes very small. Public transport becomes faster, more flexible and thereby more attractive for more people.
The commuters move faster from bus and train to and from work. They can reserve a city bike over the internet. The city bike will often be the fastest option when it comes to meetings and errands around town. The city bike can take shortcuts down streets that are one way streets for cars and via peaceful bicycle routes.
The citizens of the city have a fast and well-functioning electric bike at their service any time and without worrying about theft, maintenance or blowouts. Guests can enjoy life as a cyclist in the capital without hassle.
Tourists can use the inbuilt GPS and screen to be guided to museums and sights via green cycle routes, while offers from restaurants and events will pop up on the screen. Tourists will return home with experiences they can get nowhere else in the world.
Businesses can invest in their own city bikes and/or charging stations that can go into a common pool – via online reservation there are always business bikes available. Green, efficient and cheap.
Common for all users is the ease of renting the new city bike. Tap into the screen and drive. No hassle with coins. No queue at a machine and a guarantee that you can get rid of the bike again. The latter is particularly important when you have to get on a train, bus, plane or ferry or have to pick up a child somewhere.
About the construction of the company: Danish company Gobike delivers the city bike financed by the municipalities of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg as well as the state railway, DSB. In principle, Gobike works just like the bus companies running on a contract for traffic companies such as Movia. Gobike has a contract for eight years with the possibility of a seven year extension. Apart from the cost of the bike there are expenses for charging stations, maintenance and redistribution. The public subsidy for the first 1,260 bikes including charging stations and maintenance is 4,800 kroner per bike per year. That is about half as much given in subsidy per bus ride. The bike costs 17,000 kroner to buy.
City bikes are intuitively a good idea. They are available to everyone, they solve a string of serious problems concerning congestion, pollution and climate. They add to the value of the rest of the public transport and help make a better atmosphere in the city. I hope that Copenhagen’s newly elected Citizens’ Representation will give the city bike a boost to the benefit of the city, its citizens, commuters and many tourists.