MAINZ, Germany (BRAIN)—The city of Mainz, Germany introduced a 4 million euro plan to integrate bicycles into the city’s public transportation system this week.
The city of about 200,000 located along the west bank of the Rhine River has commissioned Swiss bike brand Simpel to use a fleet of its Paper Bicycles for a 120-station bike share system. The Paper Bicycle is a low maintenance, steel-framed utility bike modeled after the British Royal Mail bikes.
The bright yellow bikes are spec’d with a Nuvinci’s N360 continuously variable transmission drivetrain and were introduced Monday as part of a Nuvinci media launch in Mainz. Nuvinci will make public its new innovation on Aug.1.
The Mainz bike share program is run by the city’s public transportation department. Bike stations will be situated near existing stopping points for trains and buses to encourage combinations of multiple modes of transportation among commuters. The system is activated by a personal identification card linked to the user’s bank account that can also be used with the city’s other transportation options.
The first six solar-powered stations have been installed as pilots with plans to grow to 120 stations and 960 bikes in 2012.
Half of the program’s cost is being paid for by a grant from the German Federal Ministry of Transport with the rest of the funding coming from the Mainz public transportation department. The plan is for the program to become self-sustaining in the long run with nearly 600,000 trips a year, although the city is still working on the cost structure, said Tina Liebig, project coordinator.
The bikes will not incorporate any advertising since the program is paid for with public dollars.
Liebig acknowledged the model is a new one that will require a learning curve especially with regards to maintenance of the bikes and realizing full integration into the existing public transportation system.
“If it proves to work it can be a great future for public bicycles in other German cities,” she said.
(PHOTO: Paper Bicycles' Philip Douglas explains the benefits of the bike that will be used by the city of Mainz for its new bike share program during a press launch Monday in Germany's Rhine Valley).