Council hesitates on city bike scheme

The City Council slashed its budget for bicycle-sharing system and will wait until next summer before deciding to continue funding

A new bicycle-sharing system is on its way to Copenhagen, but the City Council has not committed to the scheme and may not choose to continue funding it after next summer.

The decision stands in stark contrast to the eight-year financial commitments made by rail operator DSB and Frederiksberg City Council to the city bikes that are being rolled out in October.

Copenhagen City Council last week set aside 40 million kroner in the 2014 budget to finance a city bike scheme, but it wants to see how well the scheme works before committing more funds.

Decision delayed until summer
“There have been a lot of strong opinions about the new city bikes,” the city's deputy mayor for technical and environmental affairs, Ayfer Baykal (Socialistisk Folkeparti), told Politiken newspaper. “That is why we have agreed to delay the final decision until the bikes are on the street, and we have a more sure feeling of the new system. But at least we have set aside the money for a new city and commuter bicycle.”

Baykal was referring to the fact that last October, the City Council set aside no money in this year’s budget to fund a replacement for the antiquated city bikes for when the contract with the supplier expired.

READ MORE: The future of city bikes or a waste of money

A month later, the City Council announced that it had found a replacement to the old system and presented its new plan featuring bikes from the Danish/Dutch company gobike that, with their electric motor and tablet computer, are far more sophisticated than the clunky city bikes they will replace.

Frederiksberg Council and DSB joined Copenhagen and set aside 11.4 million and 35 million kroner respectively over the next eight years to fund the new scheme that will be operated under the name Cykel DK.

But after mounting concern over the cost of the programme, Baykal was only able to secure 40 million kroner in the budget to fund a city bike scheme, after initially demanding 100 million kroner.

Mounting scepticism
Anna Mee Allerslev, leader of Radikale in the City Council, said she was pleased that her party had helped negotiate the lower sum.

 “We now await the result of the pilot project before we make a proper and sustainable decision,” Allerslev told Politiken. “We want a city bike system that is competitive both in terms of its quality and price. If other major cities can do it, so can we.”

Far-left party Enhedslisten also urged caution and agreed that it was best to delay the final decision over whether to commit to the Cykel DK system until next summer.

Frederiksberg left in the lurch
But the city’s hesitation to commit to Cykel DK has irritated Jan E Jørgensen (Venstre), the chairman of Frederiksberg Council’s city and environment committee.

“The city uses cycling to brand itself and people flock to Copenhagen from the US and Europe because cycling solves congestion problems, CO2 problems and helps tackle obesity," Jørgensen told Politiken. "That’s why it’s strange that Copenhagen is not throwing itself more wholeheartedly into the project.”

Factfile | New bicycle-sharing system

– A new bicycle-sharing system will be introduced in Copenhagen. The bicycles are provided by the Danish/Dutch company gobike, while the operator will be Cykel DK.
– 250 bikes will be rolled out at 65 stations in Copenhagen and Frederiksberg. 1,260 should be on the streets by next spring
– Rail operator DSB and Frederiksberg Council have committed providing 35 million kroner and 11.4 million kroner respectively over the next eight years.
– Copenhagen City Council has set aside 40 million kroner over eight years but will wait until next summer before deciding whether to continue funding Cykel DK.
– Copenhagen City Council estimates that each bicycle will cost 6,000 kroner per year to buy and operate.
– Gobikes are equipped with a battery and tablet that can be used to hire the bicycle and plot a route through the city.
– Commuters and tourists using the Cykel DK system will pay 20kr per hour to rent a bike; 25kr per hour if the electric motor is used.
– A subscription will cost 70 kroner per month.  Every extra hour after the first 30 minutes costs four kroner, or six kroner if the motor is used.
– It costs subscribers 10kr to book a bicycle and non-subscribers 20kr.
– Not picking up a bicycle, cancelling a booking, not parking the bike in a docking station if one is available, and leaving the bike too far from a docking station all incur fees.

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