The Stockholm eBikes service was designed to be a role model, but then..., Source: Stockholm Municipality

Stockholmers left without city bikes, at least for a year

Stockholmers left without city bikes, at least for a year

The Stockholm eBikes service was supposed to be revolutionary in its affordability

Only a year after Stockholm’s revamped rental bike service launched in the city, it has run aground after the local authorities announced that they will cancel the contract with Citybike (Inurba). The cited reason was repeated breaches of contract on the part of the service provider, due to insufficient bike availability, battery fires and a bicycle that broke in two parts causing an injury to the rider.

That last case was in fact the reason for the company to declare a pause in the Stockholm eBike service in order to inspect all of the two-wheelers in its inventory. Two weeks later, they asked the city government to extend that pause to six to nine months citing the need to find a new bike supplier. That, however, turned out to be a bit too much for the authorities and their patience ran out, resulting in the pull-out from the agreement.

A bike-less summer ahead

The timing of this unfortunate news could not have been worse given the fast-approaching summer – a season when bike usage is at its peak, especially for an outdoorsy nation like the Swedes.

Yet, it was meant to be all so different and revolutionary when it began in 2022. Media reports were praising the almost unbelievable affordability of the rental bikes, especially compared to other Western cities in Europe and the United States.

Renting a bike for entire 24 hours would only set you back 24 Swedish crowns (SEK), which is the equivalent of 2.10 euros. This includes an unlimited number of trips and 90 minutes per trip. You could extend the trips for 12 crowns per hour. And these are the updated prices from 1 April 2023. According to a Vice report, they were even lower before that, with 26 crowns getting you a 7-day pass.

What’s even more surprising is that the exceptionally affordable pricing scheme was not propped up by generous (or any) public subsidies but was wholly reliant on meticulous planning and efficiency design, plus revenue from advertising on the bikes.

Among the cost-cutting measures cited was the implementation of dockless parking through the usage of virtual stations. Locking and unlocking the bikes required being within one of the station’s geofenced zones. This saved the company the cost of installing and maintaining physical docking stations.

It turned out that it wasn’t going so well after all and perhaps the bikes, manufactured by Italian company Vaimoo, weren’t up to the necessary standards. The inspection revealed that several others also had cracks in their frames putting them at risk of literally splitting in two, like the incident at the beginning of the month.

During the winter, 1,000 bikes had to be retrieved because it was found that they might cause fire risk due to their batteries.

In February, the City of Stockholm filed a lawsuit against Citybike regarding unpaid fines for the period 1 April 2022 through 16 February 2023. In total, the fines then amounted to SEK 16.9 million. Citybike agreed to pay just over 6 million, but as to the remaining 10.7 million, opinions differed.

As things stand, the authorities will be looking for a new provider of the rental bike service, however, it will be a timely process, which is expected to take up to a year, meaning that this summer residents and tourists in Stockholm will need to look for other sustainable mobility alternatives.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU