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1000 public bikes for the city of Antwerp (Belgium)

By Raf Canters / Updated: 01 Aug 2014
At the beginning of June, the city of Antwerp launched its bike sharing system Velo. In the first phase, there will be 1000 bikes available at 85 stations. Already, one month after the launch, the system is wildly popular, with almost 4000 annual subscriptions sold.
On the 9th of June, the Velo bike sharing system was officially launched. Sales had begun in mid May, and by the time of the opening event, the system already had 2000 registered users.

The design of the bike is tailored to intensive, urban use. The bikes have three gears and broad tires so users do not get stuck in tram tracks or holes. The small front wheel is meant to make it easier to manoeuvre the bike. Above the front wheel there is a luggage carrier for small or large bags. The bikes are renewed every three years.

All subscribers need to register first, either on the Velo website, or at the service point. An annual subscription costs €35, but in the first month, early birds could buy one for €29. Annual ticket holders receive a user card that they need to scan at the bicycle station before taking a bike. For occasional users and tourists, it is possible to buy a day ticket (€3) or a week ticket (€7). They receive a code that they need to punch in at the station. There is a wap cell phone application for ordering day and week tickets. The first half hour of each trip made in the course of the day, week or year is free of charge. If you use the bike longer than half an hour, you pay €0,50 per extra half hour and €5 per extra hour after 1,5 hours. The maximum duration of a trip is 4 hours.

A digital map on the Velo website shows where operational, empty or full stations are. If a user arrives at a full station, he or she can scan their card to see where the nearest station with empty spots is located.

Before the launch of the system, a customer service point was installed at the central railway station to answer citizens’ questions and sell subscriptions. In the beginning of July, a second customer service point was opened in the city hall. Three weeks after the launch, 3964 Antwerp residents had bought an annual subscription. Because of the great uptake, the discount price of €29 was prolonged until the end of August.

The Velo service has its own Facebook page where users can post their feedback, comments, experiences and photos. The page already has over 500 fans and is intensively used. By the end of the summer 2011, there will be 85 stations and 1000 bikes. In a second phase (2013) the number will grow up to 150 stations and 1800 bikes.

Source and more information: www.velo-antwerpen.be (Dutch)
Picture source: www.velo-antwerpen.be
Walking and cycling
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