In addition to ride-hailing services, Vilnius has 2 cycle hire schemes. As a city of short distances, Lithuania’s capital can use the schemes to further minimize traffic and develop sustainable sharing transportation infrastructure. There is also big marketing potential: Vilnius can more actively promote itself as a green city in tourism campaigns. It has already got some international recognition: in The Green City Index 2009, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) named it the greenest city in Eastern Europe.
In July 2015, a stationless cycle hire scheme, Dropbyke, was launched in Vilnius. “We believe biking is the most efficient method of urban transportation. But it’s only available in the downtown areas of the biggest cities due to the limits of docking-station-based technology. Based on existing tech, we see an opportunity to build a business model that can help spread public biking around the world,” says Alexander Shvetsov, Founder and CEO of Dropbyke.
The cycle hire scheme is simple to use and maintain. You need to download an app, register your phone number, make a payment and choose a bike from an app map. There are photos and comments of previous users which specify where bikes have been left. Once you choose a bike, you get its locker code. The service costs only €1.00 per hour. When you finish your ride, you need to lock the bike in a visible place, take a photo of it and upload it to the app so others can easily find the bike location.
In contrast to regular cycle hire schemes, Dropbyke does not need docking stations and payment terminals. It has 50 city bikes for hire. They can be left anywhere in the city. Once in a while, bikes left in remote areas are collected and brought back to the centre.
“The final goal is to become something like Uber for bikes. We know that Uber has become the biggest taxi service provider without owning a single car by allowing each driver to become a taxi driver. The idea for Dropbyke is the same: allowing anyone who has a bike but isn’t using it to rent it out to someone who needs it,” Shvetsov reveals.
Dropbyke is operating alongside a regular cycle hire scheme, Cyclocity Vilnius, launched in spring 2013. It is a 24/7 self-service. There are 40 docking stations located close to each other with 300 orange city bikes for hire. Most of the stations are in the centre of Vilnius. Every station has a payment terminal. Payments can be made with a member’s card, Vilnius’ public transport card, a partner’s card or a 3-day ticket. A seasonal subscription costs €19.90 for adults and €13.90 for youth. There is also an option to get a 30-day subscription for €3.90. A 3-day ticket costs €2.90. The first half an hour of a ride is free of charge. The 2nd half an hour costs €0.39. The fee increases with every extra half an hour: you need to pay €1.39 for the 3rd half an hour and €3.39 for the 4th half an hour and more.
The service is easy to use thanks to an app, AllBikesNow. It shows you the nearest docking station, available parking space and bikes in each station. You can also check on it your subscription account.
Cyclocity Vilnius has become a very popular way to get around in the city. JCDecaux, a scheme operator, estimates that users have already made 1 million km in total since the project launch.