More than 75% of the European population lives in urban areas . To make sure that these urban areas function properly and grant their citizens an high quality of life, the air quality has to be maintained at decent standards. There’s a lot of pollution in cities, because of the transport of goods and the transportation of the citizens which makes it difficult to maintain these standards. Urban traffic is responsible for 70% of the pollutants in the environment. Cities have to provide other, less polluting, alternatives for transportation. Luckily, there are plenty of initiatives that introduce new and greener transport alternatives.
For example the initiative in la Rochelle. La Rochelle provided a bike sharing initiative which is completely intergraded within the public transport network. The city wanted to reduce the car use for short-distance trips. Over 6000 car trips were avoided and the CO2 emission reduction can be estimated between 720 and 2290 kilogram. This initiative is as green as possible. The only con is that a huge amount of bikes that are provided for free get stolen. This is a returning problem since the first initiative of shared bikes with the white bikes in Amsterdam.
Luckily, the technology has gone through a lot of improvements which can improve the initiative of shared bikes.
The non-profit organisation StudentENMobiliteit in the city of Ghent offers rental bikes to students for only 40 euros a year. They rent about 5000 bikes a year to students, but a lot of these bikes get stolen. Therefore the organisation designed a theft prevention system, whereby chips are attached to the bikes . With these chips the bikes can be located after they are stolen. Besides these chips there will be some “lokfietsen”. These bikes will be watched and when they are stolen, the thief can be arrested on the spot. In this way StudentENMobiliteit can get a thief profile which will help to prevent theft in the future. This project had some decent outcomes. The relocation of bikes after they were stolen increased with 10 percent. The use of the rental bikes increased with five percent and the number of visitors who came to the city centre by bike increased as well.
The problem of pollution and traffic jams are all over the world. There are a lot of initiatives for shared bicycles and all of the solutions are alike. Even across the globe, in the Philippines, they came up with almost the same solutions for the pollution problem as in Europe, which proves that this is the best solution for the problem.
The chipped bikes of StudentEnMobiliteit will lower the threshold for other municipalities to also implement this initiative in their city. In the past the costs of public bicycles transcended the benefits. With these chips is it possible to trace the location of a bike after it is stolen. Hopefully this will stimulate other cities for this initiative as well. When short distances will be travelled by bike instead of the car, there will be a decrease in pollution. This technique can also be applied to other bikes, like service bikes for short distances. In the end the air within the cities will be of much better qualities, all thanks to the chipped bikes.