The 'House of the Bike' and bicycle activities
Up to now there has been no main contact point where cyclists can access specialised information or small-scale services in Ghent.
Implementing sustainable mobility
As the train station will be redeveloped, its surroundings will be transformed into a building site. As a result, the space for bicycle parking and bicycle services will diminish. Therefore a back office with a bicycle service for hiring, minor repairs and information for incoming and outgoing train commuters will be set up at the ‘House of the Bike’. The location will become the main contact point for cycling information in and around the City of Ghent. The premises of the ‘Student and Mobility’ bicycle hire programme will be extended and a bicycle sharing programme will be introduced. Secure bicycle sheds around the train station and within the university area will be constructed and a Park & Bike programme will give car drivers the opportunity to leave their car behind and visit the city by bike.
Due to irregularities in the tender procedure of the House of the Bike, the process needs to be redone.
The back office will be installed at various stages. Firstly a bicycle hire system will be offered and bicycle “guards” will operate in the surroundings to guard the bicycle sheds and to keep them in good shape. Within the House of the Bike secured sheds will be available and small repairs will be offered. Later on a bicycle information point will be added. Non-profit organisation Maxmobiel is responsible for most of these services and will have an office in the house. They will also implement a software device for the rental bikes.
The implementation of a bike-sharing programme in the corridor and the rest of the city centre will be implemented. To use a City Bike, the user deposits a coin into a slot, found on the handlebar of the bike, in order to unlock it from a bike rack. The user can then ride the bicycle for as long as they wish, provided they remain in the designated boundary of the city. To return the bike, the user simply locks it to any of the bike racks strategically located around the city at train and bus stops, multi-story housing flats, shopping districts, and tourist attractions.
The bicycle hire system for ‘Student and Mobility’ will be expanded. It is believed that the railway station extension and the works will enlarge the target group. Therefore its premises in the student area will be expanded. The Park and Bike area will be implemented at the existing Park and Ride zone by the City Council of Ghent. Thus far 25 bike boxes have been introduced. These private boxes can be used to park private or rental bicycles. Seven bicycle bins were installed in densely populated neighbourhoods. A bicycle bin is a covered bike rack for five to six bicycles. A six-month trial period is currently going on and the bins will be evaluated afterwards.
Ghent expects the measure will:
- Develop secure bicycle sheds for 500 bicycles;
- Develop a Park and Bike zone;
- Develop local neighbourhood bicycle sheds;
- Increase the number of commuters cycling by 10 percent; and
- Limit the number of stolen bikes.
The 20 extra bike boxes will be installed in 2012 and beginning of 2013. The city of Gent will look into other solutions, like neighbourhood parkings, shared garages, ... to solve the bike parking problem.
Key result 1 - More than 4000 website visits per month (www.gentfietst.be).
The average website visits per month is more than double the quantifiable target of 2000 visits. The inventory of bicycle website contacts is thus succesful.
Key result 2 - Envisaged interest in the bicycle website (70%) among all target groups, but this interest does not automatically result in being familiar with the bicycle website
Key result 3 – High occupancy of new types of secured bicycle sheds (bicycle bins / boxes)
Most bicycle bins are actually completely rented out. During the pilot project, demand for a parking place in a bicycle bin was higher than the limited supply of 6 bicycle bins (x 5 parking places per bicycle bin = 30 parking places). Moreover, at the beginning of 2012 the city decided to order 20 additional bicycle bins. Citizens could make suggestions for possible locations. Again, demand is higher than supply. Citizens are willing to pay a maximum renting price of 5€ per month per bicycle. The bicycle bins are thus a real success story. The success of the bicycle boxes took some time, but eventually 20 of 25 bicycle boxes are rented resulting in an occupancy rate of 80%, so the target was reached..
Key result 4 – Envisaged interest (70%) in new types of secured bicycle sheds not achieved
Before the implementation of secured bicycle sheds: some target groups (especially citizens) nearly reach 70%, but the interest of other target groups (students in higher education and cyclists) is considerably lower. Minimum familiarity with secured bicycle sheds of 25% is achieved for among citizens but not among students and cyclists. This is no surprise since citizens are the main target group for the use of bicycle bins. Bicycle bins have a strong visual presence in the streetscape of the residential neighbourhood of citizens.).
Key result 5 – Familiarity for bicycle bins higher than for bicycle boxes
Familiarity with bicycle boxes is lower than familiarity with bicycle bins. Bicycle boxes actually aim at commuters who park their bicycle and switch to their car or public transport in their commute trips. Consequently, the use of bicycle boxes is more specific than bicycle bins. This might explain the lower familiarity rates.
Key result 6 – Participation in the pilot project decreases significantly the NIMBY-effect (“Not In My Backyard”)
The (un)willingness to have a bicycle bin in close vicinity remains constant, unless citizens have participated in the pilot project. This unwillingness disappears once they have used the bicycle bin.