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Will bikes remain popular in the future?, Source: Linköping Municipality

Linköping turns its back on rental bikes

Linköping turns its back on rental bikes

They have fallen victim to another growing trend in micromobility – scooters, among other things

Last week, the Swedish City of Linköping announced its intention to put an end to the local municipal rental bike service (Linbike) with the decision to be confirmed today at the municipal board meeting. Several reasons have been cited as the forces that explain the declining popularity of what was, initially, a well-received service.

Curiously enough, one of them is the rise in acceptance of electric scooters. This points to a possibility that rather than co-existing, these micromobility devices might be in competition with each other.

Little benefit for a lot of money

Linbike was launched in 2019 and initially attracted a lot of subscriptions, especially from young people and students, gearing up to thousands of users, but then the coronavirus pandemic struck. The resulting restrictions and remote working and studying changed the users’ travel patterns.

Vandalism and theft have also affected the bicycles' reliability, performance and safety. And then, the market has rapidly changed in favour of a new mode of micromobility, in the form of electric scooters. The latter have proven more attractive to the younger generations.

From my perspective, this is not really an issue that lies in the municipality's mission, it is something that should be transferred to the market. Despite this, we have tried to find solutions to continue, preferably with the help of external actors. Those solutions have not materialized,” explained Niklas Borg (M), the mayor of Linköping.

The estimated municipal cost of keeping Linbike running in accordance with the signed agreement, with the current utilization rate, is just over SEK 21 million (about 2 million euros). 12 million of that amount was supposed to come from advertising revenue that could not be realized, which is the help from external actors that the mayor was referring to.

Is that a sign of things to come? It remains to be seen, however, the story is a stark reminder that sustainable mobility can also be a question of trends and tastes, which change with the times.

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