On your bike! The Dutch bike hire company that’s getting Britain going again – from £12.90 a month
Before the lockdown caused a boom in cycling, London had one of the lowest pedal power consumption for any capital city in Europe.
Bicycles accounted for just two percent of road traffic, compared to 49 percent in Copenhagen, 35 percent in Amsterdam, 10 percent in Dublin and five percent in Paris.
All indicators suggest that the lockdown has changed that, with the government at one point subsidizing bicycle repairs and reporting increased use.
With more workers being told to return to normal life, that boom will be put to the test, along with many recently repaired bikes.
Will we, counterintuitively, become more ‘European’ just as we embark on our Brexit future, or will we slide back to the country where only 14 percent of people cycle regularly?
Swapfiets is a bike rental company that rents out bikes from £12.90 per month
A new ingredient that could tip the balance for future London bike commuters is the launch of a Dutch membership company offering the chance to own your own bike for a monthly fee.
The system has already signed up more than 220,000 people in nine European countries for Swapfiets (Swap Bikes in Dutch) with the important advantage that they are rarely stolen due to their distinctive blue front wheels.
According to EU figures, four million bicycles are stolen every year in Europe, which is 20 percent of total annual sales.
Marc De Vries, CEO of Swapfiets, said: ‘We believe the lockdown has revealed a huge desire for an easier and more comfortable commute.
“It presented a great opportunity to accelerate the cycling agenda and transform our cities into healthy, green, social environments – cycling is a transport solution for life, not just lockdown.
‘We are very excited to introduce the Swapfiets concept to London’s roads and make cycling more accessible and affordable for everyone.’
The bikes start at £12.90 per month, rising to £14.90 for a more luxurious model and £75 per month for an ebike.
They hope their business model will become as attractive as car leasing, which now serves 1.6 million users.
And they count on commuters to think long and hard before paying over £200 a month for a Zone 1-4 Travelcard.
The bikes come complete with puncture-resistant tires, a double AXA lock, luggage carrier and excellent lighting for more safety.
Swapfiets has already signed up more than 220,000 people in nine European countries
Any repairs can be organized within 48 hours and are included in the monthly fee and if the bike is seriously damaged or stolen it will be replaced.
An online reviewer from Berlin said: ‘It makes owning a bike really easy. It’s all the little things that add up owning a bike and cause people to be inconsistent in using it.
‘You have to have work lights, maybe you want a chair for your child, or a basket for your groceries and that makes it all very easy.
“As someone who wants to save money and get fitter, this method will continue to cycle and make you more consistent.”
Swapfiets also has serious green credentials. Every part of the bicycle is designed to be easily repaired, replaced or recycled, extending product life and avoiding waste. Their goal is to make 100 percent circular bicycles by 2025.