Billy Bike expands its e-bike fleet in Brussels
The Brussels start-up Billy Bike has decided to extend its shared bicycle service in the capital. The bicycles are now offered in fourteen instead of four Brussels municipalities. “In the long run, we would like to see a Billy Bike on every street corner in Brussels,” says Pierre de Schaetzen, co-founder of Billy Bike.
At the beginning of July, the start-up announced that it was expanding its offer from 150 to 300 shared e-bikes, an expansion for which it raised no less than 250.000 euros from its users via crowd funding. It is quite an evolution for the company, one of the pioneers of free-floating shared e-bikes in Brussels.
It seemed essential for founders Pierre de Schaetzen and Guillaume Verhaeghe to have more bicycles to serve a larger area. For this reason, the platform will continue to launch additional bicycles in the coming weeks, to ensure that there is always a Billy Bike within walking distance throughout the area.
The ambition is to have a Billy Bike on every street corner in Brussels. “Knowing that there are 5.000 streets, the calculation is quickly made,” says De Schaetzen.
The new model offered in Brussels is more accessible and sustainable, according to Billy Bike. The bikes are smaller and lighter, making them more accessible to women, and the saddle is now adjustable with one hand.
Another new feature is the addition of two handbrakes on the bike, which replace the backpedal brake of the first model.
The platform consulted its users via social networks to understand the need of their users. Following the survey, the founders ranked the neighborhoods with the highest demand. The inhabitants of Schaerbeek and Forest were the most in demand.
In addition to these two municipalities, Billy Bike will also be available from this Friday in some neighborhoods in Koekelberg, Auderghem, Molenbeek, Saint-Josse, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Uccle, and Watermael-Boitsfort. Until today, Billy Bike bicycles were located in Brussels City, Ixelles, Etterbeek and Saint-Gilles.
Billy Bike also recently announced that it would offer its shared black and blue bicycles to users free of charge on Sundays, until the end of the summer. Any journey shorter than 20 minutes will be automatically refunded.
“It’s all about accessibility if you want to get more people on bikes,” says Pierre de Schaetzen. “We note that the Brussels resident is fully involved in mobility. That is why we intend to launch our bicycles throughout Brussels at a democratic price.”
If the start-up was very quickly a great success, it also had to face strong competition in terms of shared mobility quickly. First e-scooters and then Jump Uber bicycles, the trend took hold in Brussels almost at the same time as the Brussels company.
Uber now has 500 e-bikes under the brand Jump and Villo launches ‘e-Villo’: 1.800 of the 5.000 Villo bicycles will be replaced by electric ones this summer.
“We thought it would be a problem but not at all,” explains De Schaetzen. “It has been very positive for us because it creates a wave and people are opening up to using means of transport other than their car. Users also like the local side of our business.”