Borrowing instead of buying is very much in vogue. Also with bicycles. On the island of Usedom this became Idea developed a transport system with government support that could point the way to the future.


Bicycle and public transport as a complete alternative to driving a car?

I've often written about innovative bicycle rental systems lately – for example the Bixi bike in Montreal, where you pay by credit card and the first half hour is free. And also the call-a-bikeSystem the Deutsche Bahn is well known.

On the island of Usedom at the far northeastern edge of the republic, a system has now been developed with the help of the Federal Ministry of Transport, which also develops local public transport and therefore, for the first time, has a completeAlternatives offers for driving.

Usedom Rad - founded by bicycle rental companies

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Usedom was already known as a bicycle-friendly island in the past: there were 50 bicycle rental shops with a stock of around 10.000 bicycles, which were used by up to 3.000 people every day Foundation of Usedom Rad GmbH 2009.

10 bike rental companies and three hotels have merged to form the Usedomer Fahrradgesellschaft, which holds the majority of the company. That Concept received state funding as part of a project by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development.

Model experiment of the Federal Transport Ministry

With the pilot project "Innovative public bicycle rental systems - New mobility in cities", the ministry wanted to support climate-friendly and energy-efficient local transport.

The Usedom concept is one of 8 that was selected from 44 applicants for funding. "Our idea was rated as particularly inventive at the time and is still the only one that is in the black," says Managing Director Enrico Krohn not without pride. The state funding expired at the end of 2012. The Corporate must now stand on their own two feet. And that does not look so bad:

Start with 100 wheels

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“We started with 10 rental stations and 100 bikes. Today we have 110 stations and 1000 bikes distributed all over the island - including 60 eBikes and 50 children's bikes," reports Krohn, who can look back on 20 years of experience as a bike rental company. But what is the actual Innovation of the concept?

As with any other bike rental, they can customers rent a bike – for 3 euros an hour, 6 euros for three hours or 9 euros for the whole day. An eBike costs 20 euros per day. "We can't ask for fancy prices, we have to adapt to the market," Krohn explains the moderate prices.

Connected with transport companies

New is the fact that they can return the bike at any station on the island. And that they can use the day ticket for the bicycle also in the public passenger transport on the island.

If you want, you can drop the bike at one point and return with the same ticket on the bus. Or the other way around. To this end, there is a network with various transport companies.


Free repair service included

Managing director Enrico Krohn hopes that there will soon be more People leave the car behind and switch to the bicycle: “In the summer, the beach road is often blocked by cars because everyone wants to go to the beach. That could soon be a thing of the past.”

But renting the bikes themselves is also an advantage: “If you stay lying down, you will either be directed to a nearby breakdown service or Usedom Rad will come by yourself.”

Borrowing is worth more than buying

Incidentally, the repair of the rental bikes is free of charge – unless the Customer demonstrably broke the bike himself.", Enrico Krohn explains why owning a bike is practically no longer worthwhile. And the company manages this service with two managing directors and only one Employees.

Incidentally, the wheels - as I have tested myself - of better quality than some self-bought bike.

Lend and return by hotline or personally

Lending and return are themselves handled in a comparatively conventional manner: Customers can either borrow a bike at the manned stations, cash is paid and the personal data are recorded by means of identification.

Or the customers call the Hotline sitting in Berlin, give their credit card number and in contrast the number of the castle. Similarly, the return works, whereby eBikes and children trailers are not simply turned off, but must be given at manned stations.

Mobile Payment

There is also an app for Android and iPhone with information about routes and stations. Handling borrowing on the go is still a dream of the future: “People are very conservative.

At the beginning I had to explain why you have to give your credit card number by phone. People have just got used to it, ”says Krohn. After all, Usedom Rad has already considered mobile payment: "First we take one step at a time," says Krohn.

Subsystem for the inhabitants

What he and his co-managing director Axel Bellinger are seriously thinking about is a card subscription system for the residents: “The system was originally created for tourists, but since the matter is so well received, the locals should also often leave their car behind ”Says Krohn.

In the Share-Economy you just do not have to own a lot yourself anymore - not even a bike anymore if it's part of an integrated traffic concept.

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