Facts about Bycyklen

In short

  • Bycyklen is a Danish start-up, established based on a 2012 tender.
  • The city bikes are primarily developed as commuter bikes, which serve as the 4th leg of public transport. In 2018, approx. 80% of City Bicycle users are Danish.
  • Bycyklen are run by The City and Commuter bike Foundation, which is a private, commercial fund. 
  • Bycyklen is a non-profit - all profits from the City Bicycles must be reinvested in the City Bicycle system in accordance with the City and Commuter Bicycle Foundation's Articles of Association.

More in details
Bycyklen won a public EU tender written by DSB in collaboration with Frederiksberg and Copenhagen municipalities in 2012. The metro company also contributed in handling the tender.

The tender was shared in accordance with all applicable rules, and up to the application deadline, several meetings were held where interested parties could meet and enter into collaborations if they so desired.

One of the reasons why Bycyklen won the tender was that it was "the most economically advantageous offer". Furthermore, Bycyklen was visionary and offered some options that similar systems in other major cities could not offer - including reservation of bikes and handover of bicycles next to full Bycyklen stations.

The ambition behind the new urban bicycle system was to establish a ”4. component in public transportation” that could transport the traveler the last mile between A and B. 

Specific functionalities of Bycyklen that support this ambition are:

  • Real-time view of the trip on the Bycyklen app
  • Ability to drop off your city bike, even if there is no space in the Bycyklen station, so you can still reach your train, bus, or subway.
  • Bycyklen stations at 46 train/metrostations.

Also, Bycyklen’s bikes with their motor assistance, were to help promote green and congestion-reducing mobility across municipal boundaries.

Bycyklen is primarily a commuter bicycle which, with its minute/hour payment structure and the need for recharging, provides transport from A to B - unlike most regular rental bicycles, for example, which can be rented daily.

The subsidy for the City Bicycle is 95.8 million distributed over 8 years and is distributed as follows:

  • DSB: 35 million
  • Frederiksberg: 13 million
  • Copenhagen: 40 million
  • Roedovre: 7.8 million

Eight of the 95.8 million is an annual operating grant of one million to The City and Commuter bike Foundation. The approval of Bycyklen’s bikes and the allocation of the 40 million distributed over eight years was adopted by A, B, F, O, and Ø in the Copenhagen Municipality's "Agreement on Budget 2014" (p. 18). 

The organization behind Bycyklen is:

  • Bikeshare Danmark A/S (Bikeshare) - the operating company that owns all hardware and is responsible for operation and customer service.
  • Bycyklen IT - a subsidiary of Bikeshare, which maintains and develops the fleet management system behind the City Bicycle system.
  • The City and Commuter bike Foundation (Foundation) - a private, commercial fund, founded by the contributors (DSB, Frederiksberg, and Copenhagen). The fund is the contract holder to Bikeshare and Bycyklen IT and the link to the contributors. The Foundation is also responsible for marketing of Bycyklen and distributing the Bycyklen-System to other cities.

Bikeshare and the Foundation each have their unique board of directors, who make overall strategic decisions on behalf of the companies.

Regulatory agreements

  • The relationship between the municipalities, DSB, and the Foundation is regulated through a cooperation agreement.
  • The relationship between the Foundation and Bikeshare is regulated through a framework agreement.
  • The relationship between the municipalities, DSB, and Bikeshare is thus handled by the Foundation in accordance with, respectively, the cooperation agreement and the framework agreement.

The framework agreement with the operator has also abolished the obligation to tender until 26 November 2019. This means that other municipalities can buy the capital's city bicycle system without having to carry out an independent tender - on terms that have already been exposed to competition.

The City and Commuter bike Foundation’s contract ensures an economically sustainable model. The contract stipulates that Bikeshare must have a fixed price per trip and per unit of time. Any surplus in the Bycyklen-system can only be reinvested in accordance with the Foundation’s purpose, which is to invest in green mobility and reduce congestion. That is the development of the IT system, new/more bicycles, more Bycyklen stations, cheaper prices for users, or similar. 

Bycyklen is a so-called " turn-key delivery", where the operating company, Bikeshare owns all the hardware and IT, while the Foundation (on behalf of the contributors) owns the right to offer the system. The risk of vandalism, theft, etc. therefore lies with the operating company and not with the contributors.

The purchase price of a Bycyklen including tablet is approx. 25.000 DKK. However, since the system is a turn-key delivery, it makes no sense to talk about a unit price for a City bike, with the price being IT development and bicycles, operation, repairs, redistribution, customer service, and much more over 8 years. In principle, this could mean that the entire bicycle fleet has changed when the contract period expires after 8 years - without the contributors having had an extra penny out of pocket. Bycyklen has paid for the development and setup of all infrastructure behind the system. This applies to both the IT system and the bicycles and the setup of Bycyklen Stations.

As the winner of the 2012 offer, the City Bike has what you can call a "universal service". This means that there must be Bycyklen Stations and City Bicycles in places that are not necessarily densely populated and where commercial bike rental companies are typically absent as there is no money to be made there.

The city bike is an ambitious solution that, with its motor assistance, opens up the possibility of getting users on the bike who would otherwise not normally dream of getting seated.

The Bycyklen system is still in phase one and will be continuously expanded and developed and will make even better sense when more municipalities come along, and motor assistance comes even more into line with commuting across municipal boundaries. We are already in dialogue with several municipalities in the metropolitan area and are very much looking forward to presenting the next members of the Bycyklen-family.

By the way, the city bikes have nothing to do with the old "coin-throwing city bikes." The former city bikes were operated by the Technical and Environmental Administration, which is not the case with the City bikes that are on the street now.