To promote cargo-bikes as sustainable alternatives to the car for transporting goods and children, the first public cargo-bike-sharing scheme in Europe was developed in Ghent. A pilot project, launched in May 2012, introduced 4 cargo-bikes into the existing cambio car sharing scheme.
Background & Objectives
Cycling is on the rise in Ghent, not in the least thanks to the active promotion of the mode by the City Council. For the transportation of groceries and children, cargo-bikes are a perfect and sustainable solution. The main barriers to the purchase of a cargo-bike, however, are the price and the lack of space at home to store the bike.
With the introduction of cargo-bikes into the existing car sharing scheme cambio in May 2012, these barriers have been overcome. This service is the result of a partnership between cambio Flanders, the environmental association Gents MilieuFront (GMF) and Max Mobiel, the initiative for sustainable commuting in Ghent. It was financially supported by the City of Ghent and the Flemish Government. This pilot project aims to assess the demand for cargo-bikes as an ecological transport mode in the city.
There are two stations with two cargo-bikes each. After use, the bike needs to be returned to the station it came from. Reservations can be made online, well in advance or at the last moment. Reservations can be cancelled free of charge up to 24 hours prior to the designated time. The minimum duration of a reservation is one hour. Users are charged on a monthly basis for their use of the cargo-bikes (and cars).
A key box is situated near the cargo-bikes and can be opened with the cambio membership card. Reservation is automatically ended when the keys are returned to the box. Max Mobiel is responsible for road side assistance and maintenance. Cargo-bike sharers pay a bond of 100 euros and a starting price of 35 euros, the latter being reimbursed by the City Council.>The monthly fee is 3 euros and hiring a cargo-bike costs 1.75 euros per hour or 15 euros a day. If users also want access to the Cambio cars, they can upgrade their tariff to a full Cambio subscription.
Before the advent of the cargo-bike-sharing service, the use of cargo-bikes was promoted in the project “Bak je fiets” (“Cargo your bike”) in 2011. GMF conducted a campaign to promote cargo-bikes. Max Mobiel purchased eight different types of cargo-bikes to hire out to citizens for 15 euros a day. In this way, people considering buying a cargo-bike could test them out first. On the 2011 Car-Free Day, the eight cargo-bikes were available for test rides and owners of a cargo-bike could have them checked over and decorated with graffiti, stickers, balloons or a home-made cargo-bike cushion. The cargo-bikes will be available again on Car-Free Day on 16 September 2012 in Ghent. Visitors can also test the cambio cargo-bikes and get a free subscription until the end of the year.
Both the cambio service and the Max Mobiel hiring service are promoted to the public on a joint website www.testbak.be. The City of Ghent also promotes all available cargo-bike initiatives on its cycling website ‘Gent fietst’ (Ghent cycles).
Cambio hopes that its members from Ghent will intensively use this new service and that it will be able to continue the initiative after the end of the pilot.
A survey among 200 Ghent residents showed that the main problems encountered by cargo-bike users are the lack of secure and covered parking places in the city, bad quality of cycle paths and road surface, and the aggression and impatience of car drivers.