Hello-Bike is a public bike share system in Amsterdam with a concentration of pick-up points and drop-off zones in Amsterdam’s CBD Zuidas. Users are able to pick up a Hello-Bike at one dropzone and then drop it at a different drop zone of their choosing thus creating a ‘back to many’ system. Hello-Bike is strongly connected with local authorities and has a broad audience of users ranging from business users to tourists and local residents. The majority of local business users make use of a business subscription through their employer.
The bike share system was instigated by the city government and local interest organisation Hello Zuidas. The main reason for this was to overcome the future problems that would occur during a big infrastructure project and to reduce the amount of people that commute by car. After a successful pilot in a relatively small part of Amsterdam South, the local government provided new licences to enable the expansion of the bike share programme.
A conflict of interest could arise between the operator of a public bike share system and local authorities if no clear agreements are made. This is because the main purpose of the operator is not necessarily consistent with the main purpose of the local authority or government.
Usually, the main goal of a bike sharing company is to set up a profitable business model. The main goal of the local government is to encourage more daily bicycle rides with less bikes crowding the local area. When a bike is only used once a day, this bike will still be profitable to the bike sharing company however it will not help to reduce the number of bikes in the city. This shows the conflict of interest between the operator and the local government. This is why collaboration is the only way to develop a sustainable and healthy system.
By collaborating with the local government Hello-Bike can create a sustainable bike sharing system in which the demand determines the growth factor of the programme instead of just bold profit. In fact, Hello-Bike is just the operator which ensures the agreed service level and the local government has control over the Hello-Bike fleet and determines the rules for the Hello-Bike system.
Parking your bicycles neatly in Amsterdam is a serious problem. Hello-Bike uses geofencing to motivate people to park their bike in a considerate manner. Geofencing is the evolution of physical docking stations and a more reliable alternative than a free floating system, whereby users can leave bikes anywhere they like. Only when a bike is locked in a geofence zone (referred to as a dropzone in external communication) is the user able to end their ride. The result of this is that at the end of the day bikes are concentrated at parking spots instead of spread out all across the city. This is a powerful tool for the municipality when maintaining their bicycle policy.
Hello-Bike has chosen to make dropzones physically visible by using ground pins. This makes it easier for users to spot Hello-Bike dropzones when they pass by bike immediately. Secondly, the ground pins have an effect on how users park their bicycle. The ground pins are making them aware of the right place to park their bike which again helps to maintain the local areas parking policy and to keep the dropzones neat and tidy. Ground pins were chosen because they blend well in a city environment and are very easy to replace or remove.
To increase the adoption rate of Hello-Bike, Hello-Bike decided to place information points in the form of pillars at dropzones that were close to transition points and crowded places. Taking a look at the data of the week 29 (before) and week 30 (after) gives an idea of the effect of the information points on the adoption rate. During the weekend that the information points were put in place usage was twice as high as the weekend before (see graph).
Therefore, there’s a strong indication that the information points have an important role in the uptake of the system. Similar to the ground pins, these information points are very easy to remove temporarily in case of events or activities in the area.
The Hello-Bike app is available at the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. After registering through the app using their e-mail and payment details (credit card or direct debit) a user can see the different pick-up and drop-off zones and then reserve a bike up to 20 minutes before they need to unlock it through the app. They can pause their ride while they are travelling by locking their bike anywhere in Amsterdam. If they want to return the bike they only have to go to the nearest drop-off zone to end their ride with the app.
Pricing is set up simple as possible. Users only pay for the actual time that they have the bicycle between pick-up and drop-off.
Payment is taken by direct debit so people never have to worry about sufficient balance in their wallet. Next to pay-as-you-go users, employers can connect their employees to the Hello-Bike platform by using a business subscription. If people are making use of the bikes using their business subscription, the invoice will not be sent to the them but will be sent to their employer.