The relatively mild winter has come and gone, and finally It seems that Spring is in the air. The same day that beer gardens are being constructed on the Rynek, the city's automatic bike rental system is also now back up and running. Further improvements have been made from last year, and now 200 bikes will be available to pick up and drop off across 26 stations.
According to Wrocław city council, the city's 1st automatic bike rental system had over 20 thousand users last year, and the bicycles themselves (over a 100 of them) have been used thousands of times. The beginning of the spring biking season sees the introduction of 200 bikes (up from 140 in 2011) at 26 stations (up from 18 in 2011) that span the city.
The system is maintained by the nextbike company, whose representative Joannath Mendelska claims "the bikes are in excellent condition, and the system works well from both a technical and customer service point of view"
Ok, so how does it work?
First, you need to register on the system via the company's website (www.nextbike.pl ). After filling in the usual details (name, mobile, number, address etc) you must then make a deposit of 1 złoty. Unfortunately nextbike haven't gone to the trouble of having an English version of their page yet (quite incredible really), so you may need to use an online translator to navigate through that process.
Alternatively you can register using the terminal itself, which has instructions in English (as shown in the pictures on the right)
Once you've done that, thankfully things get a lot simpler. Select 'rental' and place any paypass bank card over the sensor below the keypad. Then the system should automatically unlock a bike for you, which is indicated to you via a signal on the rack.
Once you've had your fun you simply return the bike by slotting it into an available rack. A successful return of the bike will be marked by a signal on the same rack.
The bikes are intended for short journeys, demonstrated via the prices that have been frozen from last year. The first twenty minutes are free, while taking a bike for 20 to 60 minutes is just 2 zł. Each additional hour after that will take you back an extra 4 zł, whilst the maximum rental period is 12 hours.
Things to look out for
Anybody who fancies taking a beer or two in between your bike trip should beware. If you are caught under the influence by the Police, you could potentially lose your driving licence for at least some period of time. As crazy as it sounds, it has happened on numerous occasions – so be careful!
On certain road and street crossings it also required by Polish law that you get off your bike, and push it across the street while walking. Should the Police catch you not doing so, they could be more than happy to give you a 'mandat' (a fine for you and me) of around 100zl. Ouch.
Where can I pick up and drop off a bike then?
The 26 stations are located as follows:
Rynek, Przejście Świdnickie, Galeria Dominikańska, Nowy Targ, Grodzka/ Most Uniwersytecki, Plac Grunwaldzki /Polaka, Plac Grunwaldzki/DS „Kredka” i „Ołówek”, Hala Targowa, Piłsudskiego/ Świdnicka, Plac Orląt Lwowskich, Plan Jana Pawła II, Rynek/Plac solny, Dworzec Główny PKP, Wyspiańskiego /bud A1 PWR, Łukasiewicza/bud B6 PWR, Plac Grunwaldzki/ DS „Dwudziestolatka”, Wittiga/DS Politechniki Wrocławskiej
A detailed map of these stations can be found here:
This is a great addition to the city of Wrocław, and is also a great way to keep fit. The fact that journeys under 20 minutes are free, additionally gives you the option of grabbing a bike instead of taking the tram. So why not take advantage of this scheme and get on yer bike!