$33/year for electric bike use in Stockholm

Derek Markham (@derekmarkham), Clean Technica and Treehugger, 17 Oct 2017

The new City Bike program will also feature a ‘bring your own battery’ scheme, leaving the charging to the rider.

Stockholm’s bike sharing program, which currently offers some 1200 bicycles, will be upgraded next year to a fleet of 5000 electric bikes due to increased demand for more locations and longer borrowing periods. According to the City of Stockholm, the bikes, which were available from 6 am to 10 pm during the summer, were used more than 500,000 times last year, but with a tripling of the fleet and the ability to borrow a bike year-round and 24 hours a day, ridership is expected to jump.

“It will be open all year round, all day. So if you want to commute with them from Fruängen or Farsta for example, you can use them for that. That was part of the thought with them being electric bikes too: you can cycle longer distances even if you don’t cycle regularly. So it’s both for people who want to cover short distances from the subway to a meeting for example, but also people who commute on bikes. You can use the bikes for three hours at a time, then if you want to have it longer for up to 12 hours you can pay a bit more.” – Daniel Helldén, Vice Mayor of Traffic at the City of Stockholm, via The Local.

Stockholm Vice Mayor of Traffic Daniel Helldén on one of the new bikes© City of Stockholm (Stockholm Vice Mayor of Traffic Daniel Helldén)

The biggest change to the bike share system is the move from conventional bicycles to electric bikes, which decrease the amount of effort required from the riders and can enable longer rides, but that’s not all. The Stockholm bike share program will only cost a pittance for regular riders, thanks to a rather common method (at least on the internet) of underwriting the cost. Whereas a summer card used to cost 250 kronor for the season, the new electric bike share program will cost just 270 kroner, or $33, for a yearly pass, thanks to advertising.

JCDecaux SA, which claims to be “the number one outdoor advertising company worldwide,” was awarded a 10-year contract for the bike sharing service, which will be funded by “funded by advertising street furniture” beginning in April 2018.

“In order to keep subscription and users fees as low as possible while not using taxpayers money, the city of Stockholm decided to finance this e-bike sharing network with advertising street furniture. As a result JCDecaux will operate 280 double-sided back-lit 2m2 advertising units and 70 digital 86″ units which will display animated advertising content.” – JCDecaux

The 5000 GPS-connected electric bikes will be served from 300 dock-less bike stations, and will be accessible through an app, but one major difference between this e-bike sharing system and others is the ‘bring your own battery’ element.

“The way it will work is that when you register, you are given a small battery which you can charge at home. If you don’t want to use the battery, you just use the bikes like a normal bike, but if you want an electric one, you connect the battery, which is included in the normal season ticket price.” – Helldén

The new electric bike sharing program is the first e-bike share in Sweden, and the hybrid nature of it (which allows for use with or without a battery) is believed to be the first of its kind in the world. The current bike share program, City Bikes, is also at least partially funded by advertising, according to Wikipedia, as a public-private partnership with a unit of Clear Channel Communications.