The city of Ghent will soon welcome two additional shared bicycle platforms bringing the total number of available (e-)bikes to 1 450. That is what Filip Watteeuw (Groen), Ghent Alderman for Mobility, announced on Thursday.
Unlike Antwerp (Velo) and Brussels (Villo), Ghent doesn’t have a traditional bike-sharing system with its ‘own stations’. According to Watteeuw, it’s too expensive, he explained to press agency Belga.
The city, however, concluded a contract with one shared bicycle platform. The Danish provider, Donkey Republic, launched its platform three years ago and will continue its activities with 500 orange city bikes.
Meanwhile, two other parties got a permit, so in the coming months, Mobit will introduce 200 green city bikes, and Dott will launch 600 blue electric bikes and 150 e-cargo bikes. The vehicles will be used in a back-to-many system.
€50 000 subsidy
Ghent wanted to offer visitors and inhabitants a varied offer of sustainable transport. The city, therefore, granted three providers a one-year permit to exploit a shared bicycle platform. Remarkable is that the city will grant each platform a €50 000 subsidy.
Ghent initially received seven applications but the city preferred to limit the number of bicycle service providers. After evaluation, Donkey Republic, Mobit, and Dott received a permit for the exploitation of a minimum of 200 and a maximum of 750 shared bikes on public domain.
No free-floating bikes
Ghent will soon have about three times as many shared bicycles as before. However, they will not be free-floating. All vehicles will need to be brought back to some particular bike stands, like public bicycle shelters or hubs, in and around the city center. Users have to download an app to unlock and rent a vehicle. Prices were not communicated yet.
The idea behind the Donkey Republic originated in Denmark. Founder Erdem Ovacik had a roommate in Copenhagen who put a few bikes out around the city that his friends could share when in need.
He put combination locks on them, so that people wouldn’t have to exchange keys, but only know a code. That’s when Erdem thought: “Why on Earth isn’t there an easier way to share your bike with anybody, anytime?” The rest is history.