Homeport to compete in Prague bike share tender

Czech company Homeport, which operates a bike sharing scheme in 18 countries in the world, is planning to launch its services in Prague, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Wednesday.

Photo: archive of HomeportPhoto: archive of Homeport Prague City Hall should announce a public tender for bike sharing operators by the end of 2016. The system will enable Prague citizens to rent thousands of bikes from more than 120 bike stands around the city.

Bike sharing in the Czech capital is currently operated by a non-profit organisation Rekola, which plans to install some 3000 bikes in the city’s streets this year.

Unlike Rekola, which is only renting traditional bikes, Homeport would also like to offer 500 electric bikes. That would account for about 50 percent of its fleet.

“Prague is known for its hilly terrain, that’s why we think that electric bikes offer the best solution for Prague citizens, Homeport’s founder Charles Butler told Hospodářské noviny. While Rekola charges its customers around 900 crowns per year, Homeport would charge about half percent of that amount.

Among other companies interested in operating bike sharing scheme in the Czech capital is as US company Social Bicycles and French JCDecaux.

Homeport manufactures its bicycles and develops its software in the Czech Republic. The bikes are equipped with a GPS navigation system and a computer modem which makes the bike easier to locate in case of theft.

Homeport’s electric bicycles can go up to 22 kilometres per hour and cover the distance of 55 kilometres with one charging of the battery. The company is currently testing its system in Prague’s district of Karlín, where they have placed 16 charging stations.

Homeport will only launch a bike sharing scheme for the whole city if it succeeds in winning the tender, Butler told Hospodářské noviny, adding that without subsidies from the city it wouldn’t be worth investing into the system.

According to Butler, bike sharing significantly contributes to reducing traffic in cities. He also says cities can generate profit by placing advertisements on the bikes.

Homeport has recently carried out a survey, which shows that only one percent of Prague’s population uses bikes on their way to work, while 43 percent travel to work by public transport. The survey also suggests that one third of the city’s population travel to work by car and only one fifth walk to their workplace.

Homeport has been operating bike sharing schemes since 2005 in countries such as Great Britain, France, Poland and Saudi Arabia. This June, it is set to provide electric bikes to Oxford.