Case study Bike sharing system Hello Bike on the Zuidas Amsterdam
The Hello-Bike pilot scheme was established on Amsterdam’s Zuidas for the short final distance to work. Since May 2017, spread across 11 locations in the area, shared bikes have been ready and waiting to be used. Hello-Bike already serves 408 structural users, thereby meeting a clear demand, and ties in with other measures including the Zuidas Pass.
A pilot scheme involving shared bikes has been set up on Amsterdam’s Zuidas. Since May 2017, Hello-Bikes have been available, provided by the Hello Zuidas initiative. At present, Hello-Bike shared bikes are available at 11 locations spread across the area between the RAI conference centre and the Amstelveenseweg.
Participants book a bike via a smartphone app, which automatically opens the lock. The shared bike uses ‘geofencing’. In other words, users are only able to complete their journey by shared bike by relocking the bike following use, in a ‘geofenced zone’: a virtual space within which a bicycle can be collected and returned, referred to in this specific instance as the drop zone. The bicycle need not be returned to the drop zone where it was picked up, this is what is known as a back-to-many system.
On the Zuidas, a shared bike costs €1 for 1 hour; €4 for 12 hours or €6 for 24 hours. The fact sheet on Bike sharing systems describes various forms of bike sharing system that differ in terms of structure and price.
Businesses can have Hello-Bike bicycles placed on their premises, on the condition that the public character of the shared bike is retained. Employers can offer subscriptions for Hello-Bike to their employees. Users can switch between a private and business account.
The Zuidas was looking for ‘last mile’ solutions by bicycle. A shared bicycle can offer additional flexibility in the choice of transport mode, and in that way contributes to improving accessibility in the area. A survey (via a panel and a members' meeting of Hello Zuidas) indicated that a bike sharing scheme would clearly meet a need. There were a number of reasons for this:
- Public transport bikes (OV-fiets) were often all already occupied. And there were few opportunities for expanding the existing locations for them.
- Bicycle parking facilities fill up quickly.
- There was apparently a shortage of bikes for business users.
There was a clear need to set up a flexible system as quickly as possible. Hello Zuidas drew up a tender for a bike sharing system. For funding, a grant was available from the Optimising Use programme to the tune of €570,000 in total, of which €285,000 was spent on hardware. Half of total costs were indeed covered by the Optimising Use programme.
Hello Zuidas is responsible for process management of the bike sharing system; businesses contribute by providing space for bicycle parking. The tender identified a number of key points:
- flexibility (you must be able to move individual shared bikes and the station of return)
- the primary target group for users is company staff
- the shared bikes are intended for commuters (home-work travel)
At present there are 11 locations with Hello-Bike shared bikes, and a total of around 200 bikes in use. The system can be further expanded to 500 bikes, but only when there is demand. At present there are around 400 structural users and 165 rush hour users. These users were made aware of the bike sharing programme thanks to in-company communication and by the physical presence of the bikes. The number of users has the potential to grow further if there is more active promotion and communication about the scheme.
Bike sharing on the Zuidas ties in with other mobility measures in a number of ways. For example the Zuidas Pass, that allows employees to make use of Hello-Bike and other transport services. In the future, bike sharing could be made part of a package of measures in the form of Mobility as a Service (see also the case study Mobility as a Service (MaaS)) from the toolbox).
For Hello-Bike, service provider Hello Zuidas is collaborating actively with the private parties that make the necessary land available, the Zuidas Service of the Municipality of Amsterdam, the city district Zuid and the municipal transport company GVB (or another public transport provider). Hello Zuidas encourages employers to offer their employees subscriptions to Hello-Bike.
Considerations for deployment elsewhere
Hello Zuidas has learned a great deal from setting up this bike sharing system:
- It is important to define clear frameworks for the operators of the bike sharing system. To a certain extent, control must remain in the contracting party’s own hands. It is also important to supervise the process.
- It is important to obtain an insight into use data for bicycles and cyclists, to check that everything is working smoothly. Data is also essential for sharing knowledge, for example with the municipality.
- System flexibility is vital to allow locations to be moved if necessary.
- People are becoming ‘app fatigued’; it is therefore recommended to seek collaboration and develop a single app for different bike sharing projects.
- It is important to users that the bike can be hired cheaply and that the payment system is easy to use.
- Close harmonisation with public and private parties is key to generating support and eventual success.
- The current ‘bike sharing hype’ and the related challenges influence the establishment of a bike sharing system and the related costs.
The tender procedure for the Hello-Bike project was running before the present discussion on bike sharing in the Municipality of Amsterdam.
The number of shared bikes and bike sharing systems has since increased explosively. The Municipality of Amsterdam aims to remove shared bikes for hire that are currently available in public areas, because they take up space and are subsequently abandoned in places other than the drop zone. Hello Zuidas is currently waiting to hear about the future bike sharing policy of the Municipality of Amsterdam before making a decision on a possible expansion of Hello-Bike.