During the last season, which ended at the end of October, city bikers set new records. On the busiest days, each city bike was used for 14-16 journeys on average in Helsinki. Approximately nine journeys were made per bike every day in Helsinki, and approximately three journeys per bike in Espoo. In total, the city bikes were used to pedal over three million journeys.
About 48,500 users registered for the full season, and there were about 6,400 weekly pass users and approx. 15,000 day pass users. In Helsinki, the season kicked off in April, with 149 bike stations in use. In Espoo, the season started in May, with 70 bike stations. At the beginning of August, the service was extended to Leppävaara, with 35 more stations. All in all, there were 254 bike stations and 2,550 bikes in Helsinki and Espoo.
In Helsinki, the utilization rate is high in comparison to other cities worldwide, with approximately nine journeys per bike every day. In other parts of the world, each bike is usually used for approximately four journeys per day.
According to HSL’s Senior Advisor Tarja Jääskeläinen, one of the reasons for the popularity of the city bikes is that they are so easy to use.
“You can get around quickly on a city bike; it is easy to pick up and drop off spontaneously. The bike service is part of the public transport system, and the bikes are located close to where people live and work. The good weather we had this summer also encouraged people to cycle,” Jääskeläinen says.
The city bikes are also an easy mode of transport for tourists, but they are particularly aimed at the local residents.
“The city bike has become part of the local identity. Traveling by city bike is convenient, and it is also good for your health and the environment,” Jääskeläinen says.
Satisfied city bikers
The users of the city bikes are fairly satisfied with the service. In a user survey, the service was rated 3.8 on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 was bad and 5 was excellent. The question on how reasonable the fees are received the highest score of 4.4. The poorest score, 3.0, was given to bike availability and buying a pass on the payment terminal at a bike station. This year 7,935 people responded to the survey.
In the survey, 79% of city bikers said that they use the bikes for leisure journeys, 56% use them for commuting, and 55% use them for running errands. The majority, i.e. 35% use the bikes 2–4 times per week, 26 % use them 1–3 times per month, 15% use them approximately once a day, and 8% use them more than once a day. The typical user makes journeys fairly sporadically. The majority of bike rides is made by a small group of people who use the bikes a lot. Approximately 20% of users make 60% of city bike journeys.
About 73% of city bikers use the service in Helsinki, while 8% use it in Espoo and 19% use it in both cities. The majority of users live in Helsinki or Espoo; 80% of journeys are made by people who live within the city bike service area.
Forty nine percent of users combine city biking with public transport at least occasionally, while 28% often make part of their journey by a city bike and part by public transport. Journeys that start or end at a station are clearly more common among those who live outside the city bike area.
Those who live within the service area make more journeys entirely on a city bike, while those who live outside the area more often use city bikes to access public transport stations or stops.
The city bikes have particularly replaced journeys made by foot, tram and bus, but up to 17% state that they have also replaced car journeys with city bikes.
About 69% of city bikers say that the service has saved them time, 11–20 minutes per week for the majority.
The service is expanding in Helsinki, and was already extended in Espoo this year
Next year, the city bike service will be extended to East and North Helsinki. Helsinki City Transport (HKL) studied the local residents’ wishes and needs regarding the location of bike stations through a map survey. Over 8,000 people took part.
“In the north, the area extends to Pitäjänmäki and Oulunkylä to the south of Ring Road I. In the east, the stations will be located near the Metro line so that the most easterly station is in Vartiokylä,” explains HKL’s Project Manager Samuli Mäkinen.
The city will get 88 new stations and 880 new bikes. The exact locations of city bike stations in 2019 will be published at the turn of the year.
The extension of the network will enable the service to better cater to large numbers of users also in central Helsinki when the number of bikes in the entire network grows and the station capacity will be increased within the existing network.
In Espoo, the service will continue at its current size.
“According to the wishes of the local residents, we extended the service at the beginning of August from South Espoo to Leppävaara,” explains Johanna Nyberg, Head of Traffic Management in Espoo.
“People in Espoo use city bikes both for independent journeys and to access public transport. Regional journeys between Espoo and Helsinki are mostly made from Otaniemi and Keilaniemi,” Nyberg says.
The next city bike season will start in Helsinki and Espoo on 1 April 2019. Like in previous seasons, registration will be opened a few weeks earlier. In Helsinki, the new stations that are part of the extension of the service will be available in early May.
Next year, the city bike service will be extended to East and North Helsinki. In Espoo, the service will continue at its current size. Photo: Lauri Eriksson