Bratislava citizens have tried a public bicycle rental system and car sharing

The use of public urban bicycles and car/ride sharing by Bratislava citizens were the main topics of Wednesday’s discussion held at Námestie SNP. The event was organized by Energy Centre Bratislava (ECB) and the Magistrate as a part of the European Mobility Week and within the Global Environmental Fund and the United Nations Development Programme (GEF / UNDP) Sustainable mobility in Bratislava.

Bratislavčania s predstaviteľmi mesta diskutovali o pripravovaných aktivitách v tejto oblasti a zástupcovia prevádzkovateľských spoločností im názorne predviedli, ako systém bike-sharing (požičiavanie mestských bicyklov) a car-sharing (zdieľanie automobilov) v praxi funguje. 

Bratislava citizens and city officials discussed upcoming activities in this area and representatives of operating companies offered a demonstration of how bike sharing system (urban bicycle rental) and car-sharing (car-pooling) works in practice. Motorists can be discouraged from driving in Bratislava only by intolerable traffic jams and the possibility of saving time by using different forms of transport. This was the conclusion of a qualitative survey among city residents done in July this year, as was pointed out by Tibor Schlosser, the chief transport engineer of Bratislava.

The network of public bicycles offers an alternative to individual or public transport for those, who don’t own bikes and do not intend to buy them. For short distances up to 7 km, the bicycle is the fastest means of transport. Some people are skeptical about bike sharing and fear that the bicycles would be damaged and stolen by vandals. Charles Buttler from Homeport company, which won the tender for supply of the system in Bratislava, gave the example of Moscow, where the fear of theft proved unfounded and now Moscow’s bike-sharing is one of the fastest growing systems in the world. “Bike-sharing systems do not work only if there is not enough bicycles or the bicycle stands are very distant”, said Buttler.

Michal Feik, transport advisor to the Mayor of Bratislava informed the residents, that the city expressed interest in setting up of 20 public bicycle stands located in the city centre, shopping centers on both banks of the Danube River, near the main railway and bus station. Bicycle rental should be affordable. The city wants to offer first 30 minutes of the ride for free. “The system can be utilized not only by city residents, but also by passer-by’s and tourists”, said Peter Štefaňák from Homeport.

“An average car moves only one hour per day. It is parked for the rest of the day and represents additional unnecessary costs”, said Michal Feik. With car-sharing, you pay for the car only when you actually use it”, he added.

The principle of “car-sharing” is based on the lease of a motor vehicle. It is not necessary to rent the car for an entire day, it is possible for one or two hours. Practical functioning of the system was introduced by Simona Nádašiová from the private company Avalon, which expressed interest in operating the system in Bratislava. First, the applicant registers to an electronic system and pays a one time fee. After his/her personal information is checked, the company issues an identification card with personalized PIN code, which will enable the reservation of a specific vehicle from available posts.

The operator will maintain good technical condition of vehicles, their insurance, cleaning, availability on posts and also refueling. In case of any problems a non-stop call center will be provided for the drivers.

A “car-pooling” project has been launched in Bratislava earlier this year. Within this project, residents have the opportunity to offer a ride – a free space in their car to other people, or to use this alternative of transportation themselves. Web portals greenriders.sk or zvezsuseda.sk have according to Peter Števčať 1700 registered users and some large companies from Bratislava are also involved in the project.

The goal of all mentioned projects (i.e. bike-sharing, car-pooling and car-sharing) is to reduce the number of cars in traffic and to rid the city of traffic jams.