Opinions are a bit split on Copenhagen's new bicycle-sharing system. While some hail it as a model for the future, others say that the city would have been wiser to adopt an existing, cost-efficient solution. The city's deputy mayor for technical and environmental affairs, Ayfer Baykal (Socialistisk Folkeparti), is unfazed by the criticism.
In an email interview with the Copenhagen Post, she defended the city’s choice of the gobike system, saying that after receiving bids from other companies, gobike was found to best match the city’s needs.
Why didn’t Copenhagen just adopt a system already in use in other European cities?
“We set our demands high because we want a system that is future-proof and a system that matches our ambition to be the world’s best city for cycling. If we have the world’s best city bike it will make other cities want a system like ours. That could lead us to export our solution which could create growth and employment in Denmark. I see that only as an advantage.”
No other city in the world has a bike share system with electric bikes. Why did the city think this was necessary?
“We have observed that the sales of electric bicycles are increasing. It’s still a niche in Denmark but in a country like the Netherlands, sales are booming. So we think the demand for electric bicycles will increase in the coming years.”
Speaking on a mobile phone while riding a bicycle is illegal. Isn’t the touch screen also a risk to the cyclist’s safety?
“I hope that cyclists will use the screen before they start their journey or pull over and stop to use it. But it will be a massive help for tourists wanting to get around in the city. The screen can show them where the closest coffee shop is, or the opening hours of the city’s museums.”
Copenhagen has yet to commit the full sum necessary to run the programme. Is this not a big risk? What will happen if the money is not found in the autumn?
“Of course I hope to be able to secure a majority in the budget negotiations in the autumn. The world’s best bike city needs the world’s best city bikes.”