Free bikes

A few weeks ago I was visiting my parents in Holland, and we went to national park Hoge Veluwe. It’s a big park by Dutch standards, but they have a great transportation system: free bikes.

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The white bicycles are found near the park entrances and at the restaurants and museums in the park. You can take one, cycle to the next stop, and leave it there.

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The Hoge Veluwe has used the white bicycle system since 1975, but the idea did not originate with them. The first run of the white bicycle project was in Amsterdam. In 1967, local polictician Luud Schimmelpennink wanted to introduce free white bicycles in Amsterdam, for anyone to take for a short trip. The proposal didn’t materialise, but it did inspire the Hoge Veluwe to adopt this idea. What didn’t work in the city has been running successfully for several decades in the national park.

But there are cities that have great bike sharing facilities:¬†Copenhagen introduced a free bike project in 1995, which is still running. ¬†I had a chance to use that in 1999, and it was perfect to get around the city. Just last week, I rode a Boris Bike in London to avoid either a really long walk or a very short tube ride. Amsterdam keeps experimenting with bike borrowing schemes, but it just doesn’t seem to take off. I think the problem is that everybody already has a bike…

One thought on “Free bikes”

  1. pim says:

    mainz in germany now has a bike-lending system maintained by the public transport company. first half hour is free if you have a membership, otherwise somewhere between 50 cent – 1 euro per half-hour. Not sure how easy it is for tourists to use this but it seems very popular among the local population! More than I ever expected, no one here uses a bike usually! I guess exactly because many don’t have a bike and a lot can be done with a bike within an hour it is popular, the price point is good too: a bus ticket is 2 euro 20 and a bus usually brings you from somewhere where you weren’t to somewhere where you didn’t want to be.

    The german train company deutsche bahn also has a bike hiring system that works country-wide, just call a central phone number and unlock the code on the bike. You can even leave it outside of the usual bike stations. I think it has a GPS allocation so you can track the nearest bike on your mobile phone. It’s popularity varies from city to city.

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