Following in the footsteps of Prague’s shared pink Rekola bicycles and the popular, if controversial, Limebike electric scooters, a new company is set to launch a line of shared electric bikes in the Czech capital from this week.
Homeport, which has launched operations in eight countries around the world including the UK and France, will debut more than 500 new electric bikes on the streets of central Prague from today, April 5.
Known as Freebikes, the concept is the same as other bikesharing iterations: riders can find the bikes at stations around the city, and pay to unlock and ride them on a per-minute basis. Homeport has been operating the Freebikes in select Prague locations for some years, but from today largely increase the scope of the project.
The cost of unlocking a bike is 1 crown, and the cost of riding using the electric motor runs 2 crowns per minute.
Alternatively, pedaling the bike without using the electric motor is free for the first ten minutes, and costs 1 crowns per minute after that. Pausing the ride – locking the bike for planned future use – costs half a crown per minute.
Users can locate and dock the bikes using the mobile app from selected stations around Prague that Homeport has agreed with the city.
Leaving the bike at a location other than one the district’s docking stations is allowed, but comes with an additional 25 crown surcharge.
While Prague’s bikesharing Rekola bikes have proven increasingly popular since their inception a few years back, the Limebike scooters have stirred some controversy since being launched in Prague last year (and it’s not isolated to the Czech capital – – even South Park took on the sudden prevalence of e-scooters last season).
Given the lack of cycling infrastructure in Prague’s city center, and the amount of tourists and others that crowd the streets during much of the year, cycling and scooting through the city’s historic district can be a hazard for both riders and pedestrians.
A controversial bike ban in the city center during daytime hours enacted by Prague 1 was quickly overturned, but markings denoting the prohibited zones still remain on the city streets.
By working with the city in establishing selected docking stations and areas where the Freebikes can be parked, Homeport hopes to avoid some of the issues raised in recent years.