Parking stress, now also for bikers
Sharing/Renting bikes can be very handy in city centres. But they are getting very popular and that creates a new problem: where to leave the bike at peak hours when you don’t need him any more?
It’s five o’clock in the afternoon, with your Velo city-bike you’re racing towards the train station with a few minutes left for your train. You arrive (just) in time but there is really no space left to leave the bike. It’s a growing problem for Antwerp inhabitants.
Victim of his own success
“Antwerp’s Velo bike is indeed victim of his own success,” confirms Béatrice Moës from Clear Channel, the company who runs the official city-bike rental in Antwerp. “Since this summer we have 59.000 regular users and that creates parking problems at certain hours.”
One of the main reasons is that most of the users live in the outskirts of the city and use the bikes to go to the city centre, where there is not enough place to park all of them. Despite our 10 vans permanently working to redistribute them, we are confronted with space problems.”
Wout Baert from Fietsberaad: “This is becoming a general problem in Flanders, people are using public transport and renting bikes more and more, so it becomes more difficult to park them around stations.”
Also in Brussels
In Brussels, with his steeper streets, they have an additional problem: many people use the Villo city-bikes to ride downtown (literally) and leave them there, they don’t use them to go back uphill. “That’s why we had to give our bikes extra gears,” says Jérôme Blanchevoye of JC Decaux. “If one parking lot (uphill) is empty, we guarantee that there is a bike available nearby. The regular users of our system know that very well.”
Since a couple of months you can also use the unofficial Obikes in the Belgian capital. They create other problems says Mathias Dobbels, spokesman of Pascal Smet, Brussels mobility minister. “We find Obikes in the canal sometimes and very often the saddle of these bikes has been removed. That’s why we will oblige Obike legally to take better care of their bikes.”
In a smaller town like Kortrijk they work with a combination of official renting bikes and free-floating rental platforms. There you can use Bluebike, where you have to return the bike to a docking station, or Mobit where you can leave the bike where you want. “Both systems are complimentary,” says Axel Weydts (mobility alderman for sp.a). “We have a vzw who picks up free-floating bikes outside the city, so they’re not getting lost here.”