The Finnish capital has introduced a public bike-share program that is linked seamlessly with the metropolitan area's multi-modal public transportation system. The program represents the latest generation of bike-share systems worldwide.
The Helsinki metropolitan area public transportation system incorporates a subway, streetcars, commuter trains, buses, ferries and now bike share. All modes of public transportation are included in the regional Journey Planner, which finds the optimal route from point A to point B using all modes of transportation. The Helsinki Travel Card, a smartcard used to pay for all trips, can now be used for personal identity verification in the bike-share system.
The key features of Helsinki's bike-share program are online registration, digital control boxes on bike handlebars used to operate the bikes, fixed docking stations, and renewable energy to power the system. The Journey Planner indicates the locations of bike docking stations and, in real time, the number of bikes available at each station.
Helsinki bike-share customers can join the system for a day, a week or the full season by paying a fee. On online registration, they obtain a user ID and PIN code, which they use to pick up a bike at any station. Customers can switch the user ID on the bike's control box for a Helsinki Travel Card for future user identification. The control box is also used for intermediary locking with an integrated cable, and it signs off the bike user at drop-off.
For the ease of visitors, some stations incorporate kiosks used to register as a user on the spot.
The bike docking stations are powered by in-built solar panels. The bikes' control boxes are continuously charged through a bike hub dynamo system.
The first 30 minutes of each ride are free. An additional 30 minutes and each additional hour after the first hour incur additional fees. The fees are charged to the user's credit or debit card on file. A bike can be used for up to five hours at a time. The registration fee ranges from $5.50 for a day to $28 for the entire season; the additional fees for bike use range from 50 for the first hour to $2.00 per hour for use exceeding two hours.
Helsinki launched the new public bike-share program at the beginning of May 2016 with 500 three-speed, adult-sized bikes and 50 docking stations placed throughout the inner city. The program will expand to 1,500 bikes, to 150 stations and to further city districts in 2017. This is a seasonal program, and the bikes are not in use over the winter months.
The bike-share program is part of Helsinki's overall plan to promote cycling. Helsinki's goal is to increase the share of cycling of all trips made in the city to 15% by 2020.
The program supplier is CityBike Finland, which is a joint venture between Moventia of Spain and Smoove of France. The program is owned and operated by the City of Helsinki's public transportation system provider Helsinki City Transport (HKL). Services supporting the program, including the Journey Planner, are provided by Helsinki Region Transport (HSL), which is the regional public transportation authority.