Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bike-sharing as sweet as Swiss Chocolate

With world renowned precision, the Swiss are beginning bike-sharing in the cities along Lake Geneva. The first part of the system opened last week in Lausanne, Lausanne Roule, and will have 165 bikes in 14 stations in three municipalities by July 15th and 370 bikes by the fall. At Vevey for those who have a sweet tooth, there are bike stations at the International Headquarters of the chocolate giant Nestlé. Switzerland is a confederation of cantons or states; it appears that Swiss bike-sharing is being set up as a confederation of systems. The national subscription RFID (radio frequency identification) Card of Lausanne Roule can be used in the member cities of Suisse Roule: Geneva, Bern, Neuchâtel and Zurich. Not all these cities have 3rd generation systems yet, most are run manually. The news service, 24 Heures , reports that in the Lausanne program, the first 30 minutes of use is free, then each subsequent hour is CH₣ 1 (a little less than US$1.00). The regional daily subscription is CH₣ 5, the monthly is CH₣ 15 and the yearly is CH₣ 35. For national use, the yearly subscription is CH₣ 50.
The bikes are specifically designed for Switzerland and carry advertising. Unlike most bike-sharing bikes, there is a basket in the rear rather than in the front. The docking stations are a similar system to the Italian Bicincitta. Suisse Roule is set up as a nonprofit agency. It has both government and private sponsorship. Three quarters of its revenue comes from the ad sales on the bikes and user fees.
Watch the building of the system:

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