Bike share systems in Riga gaining in popularity

Take note – story published 8 years ago

Bicycle sharing systems, which allow renting bicycles for short intervals (e.g. commutes), are becoming more and more popular in Riga. This year locals and visitors to the city are using them for a third more than last year. That's why bike sharing companies are expanding, and locals are increasingly seeing bicycle sharing systems as an alternative to public transportation.

There are 28 bike sharing spots in Riga and Jūrmala, with a total of 250 bicycles available for use. By paying a registration fee of 9 euro, a code for the bicycle you chose is sent to your mobile phone. A 30-minute ride costs 90 cents, which is cheaper than a single ticket for public transportation.

Some people are already using bike share to replace trams and trolleys for their commutes. Jeļena, who has a bike rental near her home and another one by her workplace, does her daily commutes with a bike she can pick up by her home and leave it at the spot by her work.

Those who live outside the capital use bike rentals too, as getting their own bikes somewhere via public transportation is just too cumbersome. 

Self-service bike rentals can, of course, be found in many of the largest European cities. airBaltic was the first company to introduce self-service bike rentals but abandoned the business in 2013. It was then taken over by the Sixt bike rental company.

The busiest bike share spots are in the center of Riga, by the "Radisson Latvia" hotel, said Sixt's Baltic regional manager Aldis Jaudzems. It's a hotspot where transportation and business converges, busy at all times of the day. This year their bicycles have been used 7,000 times already, compared with 10,000 times throughout the whole last year. That's why the company plans to add new locations in the near future.

Like in other European countries, bike sharing spots are used mostly by locals, while tourists use rental services where the presence of a person is required during the rental process. These rentals offer guided tours as well.

According to Atis, the co-owner of the "Riga Explorers Club", those who rent bikes usually come from countries where bicycling is popular, such as Holland, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries. 

Just in case, here is a map of Sixt's bike share spots.

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