As the weather continues to more stably warm up, electric bikes belonging to the self-service public Tartu Smart Bike Share system are being deployed in Estonia's second-biggest city again, supplementing the standard bikes that remain available year round.
Starting this week, electric bikes, which make up two thirds of the bikeshare's fleet, are gradually being returned to Tartu's streets at a pace of some couple dozen bikes a day, according to a city government press release. The electric bikes are stored for the winter each year when temperatures begin to drop below freezing.
This year, the bikeshare's fleet will be updated with nearly 100 new electric bikes. Five new bikeshare bike stations will be completed as well: Nõlvaku, Tammenurga, Savi, Vahi Industrial Park and Kiigeplatsi.
Last week, Tartu City Council announced plans to increase parking fees in Central Tartu's A and B parking zones as well as public transport and bikeshare tickets from July 1.
Gas prices have risen sharply, and maintenance of the city's bikeshare fleet is also getting more expensive as the cost of spare parts rises as well, Tartu Deputy Mayor Raimond Tamm (Reform) said, explaining the planned hikes. Most of the city's public transport ticket prices have remained unchanged for 15 years, in which time average salaries have nearly doubled, he added.
The city is, however, planning on introducing a joint public transport and bike ticket that would be cheaper than buying each ticket separately.
Currently, the bikeshare program includes five levels of tickets, all of which offer the first 60 minutes of each ride for free, then €1 per successive hour, with a max ride time of 5 hours.
- Free membership with bus card
- One hour membership: €2
- One day membership: €5
- One week membership: €10
- One year membership: €30
Plans regarding these changes are on the agenda for the city council's April 21 meeting.
55,000 kilometers biked this year
Tartu Smart Bike Share is a public, self-service bikeshare with a fleet of approximately 750 bikes, two thirds of which are equipped with electric-assist motors, and a network of more than 80 stations throughout the city. The bikes are intended to be used for short distances and docked between uses in order to keep the bikes in circulation.
Thus far this year, the bikeshare has been used to ride 55,171 kilometers over 27,646 trips. Since its launch in June 2019, Tartu Smart Bike Share riders have biked more than 6.6 million kilometers over nearly 2.5 million trips.
The most popular stations for both checkouts and returns are Uueturu, adjacent to Tartu Kaubamaja, Soola, adjacent to Tasku, and Pirogovi plats, located behind Tartu Town Hall.
Click here for more information, to buy bike tickets and for a station map with real-time information regarding number of available bikes and empty bike docks.
Editor: Aili Vahtla