Local authorities, communities and interest groups had until 17 June to enter their innovative plans for public bicycle renting in German cities in the National Public Bike Rental Competition of the Federal government. Now it's over to the judges.
Winning entrants will receive money from government for three years from October 2009 to end 2012, to implement and run their projects in their own cities. The Federal government has set aside €12.7 million for the 3-year experiment. Of that amount, €2.7 million has been earmarked for promoting pedelecs.
Government set a few preconditions for the innovative plans: They must link up with (ie. compliment) existing public transport solutions of the specific cities (eg. trains and buses) and the projects must be transferable to other cities and communities.
A jury will select the most innovative projects. Government did not bind itself to how many projects it will finance. When it announced the competition, it simply said the number will depend on the quality and the innovativeness of the submitted projects. Cities and regions which have included pedelecs in their plans (since their cities are very hilly), will be able to access the €2.7 million budget set aside specifically for pedelecs.
The competition was launched to help government reach the goals of the National Cycling Plan adopted in 2002. The so-called National Cycling Plan 2002 - 2012 was launched to promote cycling in Germany as part of a sustainable, integrated transport policy. Its aims to increase bicycle use and road safety considerably by 2012 and to promote healthy and environmentally friendly local mobility by transferring part of the motorised individual traffic from cars to bicycles and the public transport.
The ultimate aim is to protect the environment, counter-steer climate change and reduce noise in the cities and communities. A secondary goal is to boost the revival of Germany's inner cities.
Hannes Neupert, president of electric bike test authority ExtraEnergy in Tanna, said he expected the city of Stuttgart to submit a project similar to the one tested for a short while in the hilly city in 2008 in cooperation with ExtraEnergy.
The project had in mind to sell pedelecs and electric scooters from different manufacturers to the inhabitants of Stuttgart on a 4-year contract basis (as one knows it from cell phones, where the common contract period is 2 years). In the case of electric bikes, customers would buy the vehicles, but not the batteries and chargers. It was planned to position about 500 battery vending machines in central spots in the city and around the outskirts of the city, where customers could exchange their empty batteries for charged ones. For about €30 per year pedelec users would have had access to charged batteries 24 hours per day. The goal was to install the infrastructure in cooperation with Bosch, energy supplier EDF, the local public transport network VVS and an investor.
The project was later shelved for reasons to do with costs, but Neupert expects it to make a comeback in this competition - maybe in a slightly revised form.
For Competition Participants
Entries closed on 17 June 2009.
Detail of the competition can be looked at on the website of the Ministry.
Copy: Christoffel Volschenk
Photo: Susanne Bruesch
29 May 2009