Review: E-bikes share system in Wedel, Germany

You may have read about my newly kindled love for bike share systems. Hamburg’s citybike wasn’t the only project that made my heart flutter: In Wedel, a tranquil little city of Hamburg’s outskirts, we HAD to try the local bike share system. Why was it different to Hamburg’s citybike, you wonder? Well, there you see the boundaries of local government, literally. Wedel belongs to a different local government area, hence they opted for a different bike share system.

Here a quick review:

The excellent aspects of Wedel’s bike share:

  • This system provides E-bikes, which come with a number of advantages. Hire bicycles cater for normal sized people and anyone bigger (like my partner) than normal will find the bike fit is less than desirable. Imagine yourself borrowing the bike of a five-year old and you’ll get close to my partner’s sensation on a regular bike. While it would have been hard to pedal a small bike, the pedal assist on an e-bike compensated and provided comfort.
  • Wedel is flat as a pancake, but windy as. Again, the e-bikes enabled us to travel without kicking up a sweat. Our goal was to get around in comfort and site-see, which we were able to achieve. I might add, the sleek sit-up style made it VERY comfortable.
  • The self-serve vending machine was easy to use (despite a little paper-dispenser hiccup), accepted credit cards and made picking-up and returning the bike a breeze.
  • Access to the share system was easy: the bike boxes were 20 meters away from the train station and bus port so it was super easy to combine trips with public transport.

The challenges of Wedel’s bike share:

  • We hired the bicycles for two days and by the time we returned our trusted treadlies, both of the bikes’ batteries were starting to run low. While that worked out well for us I wondered how to charge the batteries? One of the options was to hire the bicycles for an entire week – surely you would need a charger cable or replacement battery for the entire time?
  • The system was easy to use, but I couldn’t find any options for regular users like customer cards.
  • The number of access and return points were limited to a few local government run spots (leisure centre and train stations were the ones I came across). Limiting the no doubt expensive infrastructure also limits the use.

If the city’s objective was to provide alternative transport to visitors and tourists then this goal was achieved. We were happy customers and would recommend a trip around town by bike to anyone. Whether this system supports locals’ short trips around town is questionable.

Have you used and e-bike share system? What was your experience?

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