300 extra shared bikes in Antwerp
Since Wednesday Antwerp has 300 extra shared bicycles in addition to the popular shared bikes – Velo and Blue Bikes for instance – the city already offers. Cloudbike, a young Flemish start-up, wants to be one of the ‘smart mobility solutions’ within the ‘clever to Antwerp’ (Slim naar Antwerpen) project the city launched since the introduction of the Low Emission Zone.
50 drop zones
In contrast to the Velos with fixed stops, the solid Scottish light blue bikes have some 50 drop zones where you can take or leave the bikes. An app on your smartphone shows you where to find a bike and allows you to unlock it. After the ride you can manually lock the bike again and the app will automatically process the payment. You pay half a euro for the first ten minutes and 5 euro cent per extra minute.
Was there really a need for a third party after the red Velos and the blue Blue Bikes you find at the train stations? “We are convinced that we are complementary and we also focus on the occasional user”, explains Cloudbike’s spokesman Jim Briels. “People will find us when a Velo is not available of when the user needs to travel a longer way. That’s why we also have drop zones at the park and rides of Linkeroever and Olympiade.”
Other cities have similar projects. Kortrijk (850 users), Mechelen and Hasselt (700 users) have Mobit with 3.600 registered users in total. The first results are positive. Hasselt still has other wishes though. The city would also like to have a subscription formula and the guaranteed availability of bikes at the park and ride zones, especially for employers offering a Mobit subscription to their employees.
Bernard De Groote, CEO of Mobit, is satisfied with the positive echoes. “Our city bikes are part of daily life and it’s encouraging that they are even popular in the winter.” He also announced that soon a fourth city will follow.
Only in Brussels shared bikes have to cope with a lot of problems like vandalism and theft. As for Cloudbike those problems haven’t been that bad until now.