Helsinki, Espoo bike share schemes to run only during summer months

City officials cite costs and lack of winter use as the main reason not to run the popular bicycle scheme all year round.

File picture of city bike station during autumn / Credit: News Now Finland

City bikes in Helsinki and Espoo will only be available during the summer months in the coming years, with no plans to make them available during the winter.

The possibility of keeping the bikes in use all year round has been discussed by the transport authority HKL, but at the moment they’re not making any decisions to extend the popular bike share scheme.

“The city bike project has been put out to tender, and there is a certain type of technical issues when it comes to winter cycling that we cannot influence” says Samuli Mäkinen, Project Manager at HKL.

“It should also be kept in mind that the use of city bikes in Helsinki would be quite low in the winter, so the costs per bike ride would become too high” he says.

Because bike stations operate using solar power, in winter they simply might not work so well.

“Until now, there have been situations even in the summer where bad weather has affected to bike stations’ functions. If we were to use conventional power, it would entail extra work and costs” Mäkinen says.

Compared to Helsinki, the situation in Turku is completely different, because there are three hundred Föli-cycles – known locally as Föllaris – in use throughout the whole year.

“Although the entire Föli system has been in use only 10 months, these bicycles have been very well received” says Stella Aaltonen, the City of Turku Project Manager.

Equipping the city bikes for the winter season has brought hardly any extra cost for Turku, the only obvious accessory was adding studded tyres for use on snow and ice.

“We originally planned a year-round city bike system. Some of the financial savings come from not having to remove the bike docking stations in the autumn, and then put them out again in the spring” Aaltonen points out.

The Cycling Network Association recently awarded Turku’s year-round city bike scheme as one of the best cycling initiatives of 2018.

In Helsinki and Espoo, the city bike network continues to expand. When cycling season starts at the beginning of April the metropolitan area will get as many as 88 new bike stations, and 880 new city bikes.

The northernmost bike station will be located in Pakila; the westernmost at Frisilä in Espoo; and the easternmost in Puotinkylä. The southernmost Helsinki bike stations are to be found at the Western Ferry Terminal and Lauttasaari.

Last year each city bike made on average seven trips each day.

Registration for this year’s city bike scheme is currently underway.