Bicike(LJ): A Guide to Ljubljana’s Bike Sharing Program
Most of you who check into Piran Café regularly know I’m an avid bicyclist. I haven’t owned a car for half a decade and rarely drove one the half decade before that; when I’m at home, bikes are my primary modes of transportation.
I wrote about bicycling in Ljubljana earlier this week for a piece in the popular travel blog Green Global Travel, a lengthy post about Ljubljana’s designation as the European Green Capital for 2016. (You can check it out here.) The city’s approach towards creating a sustainable mobility environment was a key piece in their successful candidacy for the honor. Bicycling was at the core of that strategy.
Indeed in the dozen years I’ve been here the city’s come a long way in how its streets have come to be shared between pedestrians, bicyclists, buses and private vehicles, particularly in the main old city center area. There’s a long way to go but its progress should be noted.
Which brings us to Bicike(LJ).
Largely flat, Ljubljana is an ideal city for bicycling. It boasts a network of 220km (136mi) of managed bike routes and has actively encouraged bicycling through Bicike(LJ), the city’s bike sharing system that currently operates out of 32 stations.
Similar to those in use in numerous other European cities, it was inaugurated in May 2011 to immediate success; the number of users has grown to 70,000 –that’s from a population of 280,000—who have gone on more than 3.5 million rides since that inception, nearly half of those in 2015.
The service costs just €3 per year and is incorporated into Ljubljana’s Urbana city card which is also used for cash-free bus travel, local library services, parking in city lots and streets, and more.
Journeys under 60 minutes are free; the second hour is €1, the third €2, the fourth and each addition hour is €4. But with its stations located just 300 to 500 meters apart, you’ll never use a bike longer than an hour, making it one of the cheapest transportation systems on the planet.
Like those in other cities –at least in the few dozen cities and towns I’ve used them in—the bikes are big and fairly heavy. That’s to discourage, theft, really long journeys and any off-road or trail notions borrowers may have. But they’re also safe, built to take a beating, and also have chain guards to keep your pants, socks and shoes clean. And a big shiny basket in the front, too. Highly recommended.
Visitors can register online with a credit card. Upon completing your registration you’ll receive your subscriber number and the four-digit pin you’ll need to borrow the bike.
Visit Ljubljana, the city’s official tourism office, has more info here. And if you prefer more visuals, check out this step-by-step video by travel blogger Nina Alexander from Follow the Sisters.
The World Cycling Alliance issued an appeal on Tuesday calling for the designation of a UN World Bicycle Day.
Launched at the Velo-city 2014 conference in Adelaide, the WCA is a global network of non-governmental and civil society organizations with a substantial interest in promoting cycling. The main objective of the network is not only to advocate for cycling as a means of transport within international institutions – such as UN, OECD/ITF, World Bank- but also to promote and support the exchange of knowledge, expertise and co-operation of cycling associations and organizations worldwide.
During the Paris climate summit COP21, the WCA and the ECF delivered an analysis to the UN showing the contribution that cycling makes towards achieving the Global Goals and committed themselves to supporting the Global Goals, working worldwide on getting ‘More People Cycling, More Often’ and to collaborating with the UN.
Whilst in Taipei, the WCA board adopted the proposal to work on the process to get a World Bicycle Day dedicated by the UN. Referring to the words of WCA and ECF President Manfred Neun, at the closing session of the Velo-city 2016 conference, WCA and ECF Secretary General Bernhard Ensink emphasized:
The evidence of cycling delivering on the Global Goals is there. With this momentum we hope to get greater acknowledgement of cycling by governments and international institutions worldwide. The observance by the UN of a World Bicycle Day would be strong support towards better awareness of the potential the use of the bicycle has for the achievement of the Global Goals.
And for the record: today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 804th straight, was taken in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on 10 March 2016.