JCDecaux, the company behind Paris’s Vélib' bike hire scheme and dozens of others across Europe and the Far East, has announced production of a new e-bike for hire.
JCDecaux, the largest outdoor advertising corporation in the world, offers public hire bicycles financed by a local advertising operator in return for a 10-year licence to exploit city-wide billboards in the given city. It currently has 52,000 bikes for hire in 13 countries.
It has now branched out with the launch of self-service electric bikes that can be fitted with a personal rechargeable lightweight battery.
Users will rent their own battery, and fit it on any bike. Each charge lasts around 10km, which the company says is about four times the average journey on a hire bike - although that may rise once the e-bikes come into use.
The bikes feature an automatic warning system if the user forgets to remove the battery, and smartphone connectivity via a dedicated app.
The customer will have an online subscription and a monthly charge.
Jean-Charles Decaux, Chairman of the Executive Board and Co-CEO of JCDecaux, said: "We are very proud to be launching self-service electric bikes. As a natural extension of our self-service bikes, the electric bikes draw on a range of technological solutions that mark the second revolution in urban mobility.
“While self-service bike sharing schemes, which are easy to use and environmentally-friendly, are increasingly popular with users, JCDecaux's electric bikes provide an alternative solution, complementing other means of transport.
“Multimodal mobility is a challenge for all of city stakeholders, who must promote sustainable and responsible transport solutions. This encourages new ways of sharing the public space where individuals can enjoy their independence even further, within a broader scheme of sharing means of transport.”
JCDecaux will soon have reached 650,000 users, with the bikes combined travelling over one billion kilometres.
Back in 2013 we reported how Boris Johnson was set to trial the hire of e-bikes in an area of North London not currently covered by the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, in an initiative agreed in principle with the London Borough of Haringey.
The bikes would be situated at docking stations along ‘corridors’ that will extend northwards from Finsbury Park to Muswell Hill, Crouch End and Alexandra Palace.
In Paris, operators of the Vélib’ scheme discovered early after its launch that residents of areas such as Montmartre were commuting downhill by bike in the morning then returning home by other means in the evening.
After the pattern of use was identified, operators of the scheme ensured that docking stations were regularly replenished early on in the day.
The hilly terrain of North London means that it has been deemed unsuitable for a northwards extension of the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, however.
The e-bike trial – similar schemes exist in hilly cities such as Genoa in Italy and San Francisco – means that locals would be able to more or less coast downhill towards Finsbury Park, then use power assistance for the return journey, or vice-versa.