Bicycle rental season opens in Moscow: 46,000 rentals over three days

Bicycle rental season opens in Moscow: 46,000 rentals over three days
Over 3,000 bicycles are available for rent at about 350 bike-share stations in Moscow.

Over 46,000 rentals were recorded in the first three days since the start of the rental season, an increase of 50 percent compared with 2016. Over 15,000 new users have registered with the bike-share service. Last year, close to 28,000 rentals were recorded in the first three holiday days in May.

This year, the bike rental season in Moscow was launched on April 29 and is the fifth season in a row that bicycles are available for rent in the capital. Close to 3,200 bicycles can be rented at about 350 bike-share stations across the city. In addition, electric bikes have been available since last year. They can be rented at six stations near large residential areas, at the Moscow City business area, and at the embankments.

How does the bike-share system work?

Bicycles can be rented by Muscovites as well as visitors. Riders need to register either through the terminal at the bike-share station, or at the website www.velobike.ru or using a mobile app that can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play. When registering, the user must indicate his first and last name, e-mail address, and a mobile phone number to which an SMS will be sent with a login and password to access the service.

The user can also link a Troika card to his account. A registered user will be able to view the statistics of his trips and receive payment information in his personal account.

The rates for the most popular short trips will stay the same this year, but new rate options have been added. The new Season 45 rate covers rides under 45 minutes long. Electric bicycles can be rented at the same rate as regular bikes: 150 roubles per day or 600 roubles per month. A season ticket costs 1,200 roubles.

Available for rent are bicycles with wide and convenient tires, comfortable seats, three speeds, front and rear hand brakes, and reflective elements. The handlebars are equipped with an electronic control panel with a keyboard and a Troika card reader.

Using the bike-share terminals, users can rent and return bicycles, register with the bike-share service, replenish Troika cards, study the city map, and at some stations even pay for parking.

Six round trip flights to the moon: bike-share records

The bike-share service in Moscow was launched in 2013 with about 79 rental stations on the Boulevard Ring and on the Frunzenskaya Embankment. This did not satisfy the needs of a huge metropolis like Moscow with its rapidly growing number of cyclists.

Last year saw several bike rental records undone with the number of rentals reaching 1.6 million, and the total distance of rides approaching five million kilometres, which is six roundtrips to the moon. Compared with 2015, the number of rentals doubled to 879,000.

The number of users in 2016 increased by about 200,000, and the total number of people who have used the service over the four years reached over 433,000.

Renters are increasingly buying long-term tickets. Compared with last year, the purchase of season tickets has increased by over 50 percent. On average, each ride lasts about 27 minutes (the first 30 minutes are included in the ticket cost and are free). On peak days, each bicycle was rented an average of nine times.

There are record holders among renters. In 2016, one particularly active bike-share user managed to rent a bike 2,650 times.

A bicycle-friendly capital

The bike-share service is growing with 50 rental stations and 500 bicycles added annually and this year is no exception. By 2019, the number of stations and bicycles is expected to reach 480 and 4,600, respectively. The bike-share system will expand in the city’s Western, Northern, Eastern, Southeastern, and Southwestern administrative areas.

For many Muscovites, bicycles are a great addition to public transport and in a way an alternative to their cars. Last year, more than 65 percent of users rented bicycles on weekdays. Peak demand was from 6 pm to 8 pm especially in the southwestern districts of Kotlovka and Lomonosovsky.

Moscow continues to create convenient and safe conditions for cyclists. The total route length of the city’s bike lanes has reached hundreds of kilometres, and thousands of bicycle racks have been created across the city. More parking racks are being created under the My Street programme. Currently, there are close to 2,800 bike racks with over 18,000 rack spots, not counting the racks near shopping centres and other facilities.

In 2013, cyclists were allowed to transport their bicycles on commuter trains from 11 am to 4 pm, and since 2015 also from 9 pm to 6 am. Some commuter trains and the trains on the Moscow Central Circle have been equipped with special bicycle racks. Bicycles can be also transported free on surface transit vehicles, provided that other passengers are not disturbed.

Bicycle parades have become a tradition and are held annually in Moscow. They are attended by thousands of cyclists. In addition, the city sponsors the Ride to Work events. This year’s event will be held in May.