Cycling through a sustainable Leiden

The city council of Leiden is working on a liveable and promising city through the years.
At the moment they set up a plan for 2016 until 2020 to focus on a more sustainable city even more. The idea seems really nice, but the big question is: Will it be  achieved?

To realise such an achievement, you will need the contribution of the citizens.
Because they are the biggest player in the sustainable game. To make them act towards the sustainable plan of the council, you will first have to show them that it is really possible to do something for a more sustainable city.
And people in the city are allready on the right track actually!
I would like to give you a short preview on how citizens make Leiden more sustainable starting with a small contribution.

Everything in Leiden is very close to each other, this makes it very attractive for people to take the bike instead of their car. Actually almost fifty percent of the people takes their bike to go to work or school.
And that school part is very important in Leiden, because there are a lot of students living in the city. Almost every student has one bike (or more). But you would be a fool to buy the most beautiful bike you can afford, because the chance that it will be stolen is very high.

But a lot of students on crappy bikes also means a lot of bikes which break down. Those bikes will often not be repaired, because its easier to buy a cheap new bike.
Bikes that broke down will stay where they are, which most of the time means next to a canal (and after an amount of time end up in the canal)
Those bikes have a large impact on the environment because they release iron while rusting. Once a year these bikes have to be dragged out of the water, which costs a lot of money.

Two students in Leiden thought that something should be done about this problem.
They wanted to offer a very quick bike fixing service and also to stop waisting old bikes which aren’t used anymore. A new company arose at that moment, EasyFiets.
They started to collect old bikes through the city which owners could address themselves. Those bikes were repaired and put back on the market again for leasing, or renting for a day. You can easily recognise them on the red handles and saddle. 

Remarkable red saddle and handles (EasyFiets)

This is an example of a small start to contribute to a circular economy.
Ofcourse not all the old bikes will be collected by the company and re-used. But still, once you know about the concept you see the remarkable bikes everywhere you go.And every time you see one, you will be remembered about the easy way to contribute to a more sustainble city.

It’s only one example of a contribution by citizens, but ofcourse there is more. This example is just to show that people are willing to change and work with the council to make the city of Leiden more liveable and promising.



7 thoughts on “Cycling through a sustainable Leiden”

  1. How will the local bicycle market respond? They must thrive well by all those students buying/repairing their bikes, this might change. Won’t this lead to problems?


  2. Really liking the concept of repairing bicycles and letting them recirculate within the city. I truly believe that by applying circular small circular concepts like these you can contribute to sustainability on a large scale. Do you think that introducing this bike service would be a good idea to introduce in the largest city’s within the Netherlands?

    We currently already see problems with having quick access around the city using a car or public transport. Maybe linking this concept with a local stakeholders can accelerate the spreading and adaptation of this idea within the Randstad.


    1. Introducing the bike service in the bigger cities of the Netherlands can work I think!
      In cities as Leiden, Amsterdam and Rotterdam a lot of students (and a lot of bicycles) are present.
      The idea of recycling bicycles could be implemented in every city with a lot of bicycles which break down from time to time.
      If ‘EasyFiets’ becomes an even greater success then it is now, other cities or even city councils may get interested in implementing this as well!


  3. NIce blogpost, the idea of re-using bikes in a city that is so student oriented, maybe it could also work in city’s like Groningen or Utrecht ? And maybe this is also a good initative to batle the handling of stolen bikes.
    But maybe it is also nice to elaborate on how even more citizens could be integrated into this project ?
    Do you have any ideas on that ?


  4. Especially for your wallet it’s better to lease an EasyFiets in comparison with NS’ OV-fiets. However, how will EasyFiets distinguish itself from other markets that rent bikes? Especially with the OV-fiets’ name recognition?


    1. One way EasyFiets distinguishes itself is by offering a repairservice. Not just a normal repairservice, but one that is free! If it’s a quick fix you can just wait and grab a coffee. If it takes longer to fix your bicycle you can take a different bike and continue with your day.
      This will definitely save you time.
      That is one way they distinguish themselves from other bike rentals.


  5. Hi nice blog! found it interesting! The easyfiets concept reminds me of a thing they have back in my home town of Melbourne. I live in I pretty young (admittedly rather hipster) area of Melbourne called Brunswick where a lot of people are relatively environmentally conscious. Especially among people my age its really common to ride everywhere; something which is absolutely not the case in other suburbs of Melbourne. Anyway, there is this sort of sustainability center in Brunswick east (kinda a hippie commune sorta vibe to be honest) and they have a bike repair center there. It costs around 3 euro to join and you get access to a stack of spare bike parts and old bike frames as well as expert advice from volunteers who work there. they will help you build a bike from scratch using recycles spare parts or help you to repair your bike giving you the know how to solve future problems independently should they arise. The idea is a bit different because its really a none for profit thing but I think its awesome.

    There was also a similar thing at my university back in Melbourne where every Thursday morning a group of bike enthusiasts would get together on campus and offer help free of charge for anyone with bike problems.
    considering the proportion of people cycling in Leiden is much higher than in Melbourne I’d imagine perhaps something like this could also work at Leiden university. I do think that being a business gives easyfiets an advantage when it comes to expanding to reach more people because it isn’t limited by the time and generosity of volunteers, however, initiatives like the ones I have mentioned also strengthen community ties which, while not perhaps directly relevant to sustainability, are also an important bonus.


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