How does electric bike rental work

Bike sharing is an innovative mobility service that is spreading in many cities around the world. Public administrations are focusing more and more on sustainable and alternative means of transport, providing citizens with services that guarantee green solutions for moving around the city without using cars or buses. The e-bike sharing is, in fact, a growing reality that many have learned to appreciate and exploit. Let's find out what bike sharing means, what it is and how it works.

How electric bike rental works: what is bike sharing

Bike sharing literally means "sharing a bike". It is an initiative that has spread to several European and American cities, immediately gaining a huge success, with the aim of pushing citizens to adopt a lifestyle that is more sustainable and economical. What does it consist of? You rent, when you need and whenever you want, a bike that is made available in urban centers. The first Bike sharing initiatives were born thanks to the commitment of some far-sighted administrations that had decided to make available to all citizens a fleet of bicycles to use and then leave in some collection points at the end of the ride.

Bike sharing works like Car sharing. Bicycles are made available in specific areas, near areas of tourist interest or stations, in designated parking lots. To rent them, all you have to do is download an app on your smartphone and unlock the bike by framing the QR code or using a contactless card.

Bike sharing services have achieved great success in Italy. They are in fact green, practical and low cost solutions that meet the needs of smart mobility. Renting a bike allows you to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the city, to move easily, avoiding traffic and eliminate the problem of parking. Rental prices are linked to the various companies, although usually a small deposit and a fixed cost is required. In most cases you start paying the rent only after the first thirty minutes. There are also annual or monthly subscriptions.

Bike sharing in Italy

Bike sharing in Italy has spread like wildfire, winning over even the most skeptical. Today it is possible to rent electric or pedal-assisted bicycles in almost all large and medium-sized cities. Among the first centers to believe in this particular form of mobility are Cuneo, Savigliano and Parma. Later, E-bike sharing also arrived in Turin, Cremona, Bergamo, Milan, Rome, Mantua and Florence.

In Rome, Bike sharing has spread at great speed with areas dedicated to the parking of vehicles and the administration that has paved the way for new operators, both public and private. It is no coincidence that Bike sharing is one of the pillars of the new Roman mobility, with specific regulations and incentives for operators who want to invest in the capital to promote sustainable and extended mobility models. Milan is no different, with several operators that have entered the market and many active stations. Many companies offer, as happens for electric scooters, the free floating service, allowing those who rent to leave the vehicle anywhere in the city.

How to rent an electric bike

Bike sharing of electric bikes is now a reality in many cities with several operators. In Rome, for example, we find Jump by Uber with its red e-bikes. The rental costs 0.20 euros per minute to which are added 50 cents for the release of the medium that comes to a maximum speed of 25 km / h. Another very famous operator is Helbiz, which has a fleet of thousands of electric bikes and scooters in Milan, Rome, Verona and Turin. To those who download the rental app, it offers the Helbiz Unlimited subscription, that is, the possibility to use as much as you want any type of vehicle and in any city at a price of 29.99 euros per month.

Mobike stands out instead with its silver and orange electric bicycles. It offers a "traditional" free floating bike sharing service that operates in many cities including Bologna. Finally, in Milan, the city offers BikeMi, which requires a subscription (which can also be daily) and parking in special racks.

Among the most popular platforms are Rentandfit, a site created in the middle of the lockdown that is perfect for those who want to experience the thrill of a bike ride. Designed for both experts and novice cyclists, "it was not created to satisfy a single segment of users, such as MTB or road bike enthusiasts, or a single need such as intermodal short trips, but offers the right bike for different targets and different occasions of use".

On the portal we find a rich catalog in which, in addition to electric bikes, stand out racing bikes, MTBs, trekking bikes, mountain bikes and e-bikes for the city. We also find the co-pilot, the bike for children that can be attached to those of the parent. The service is active in Lombardy, Veneto, Trentino and Piedmont, especially in tourist areas.

Next to this all-Italian start-up is Germany's Bim Bim Bikes. This is a bike rental aggregator that covers a wider area, including Central and Southern Italy. Those who prefer a more "traditional" type of rental can instead turn to other operators such as EBikeStore, a famous chain in Lombardy that specializes in e-bikes and offers its customers long-term rentals with home delivery in Lombardy. The available brands are numerous and all of medium-high level, while prices start from 33 euros per month for rentals ranging from 6 to 36 months.

E-bike with pedal assistance and electric bikes: differences and definitions

The e-bike is a pedal assisted bicycle with an electric motor. It is therefore a bike to which have been applied a lithium battery, an electric motor and sensors that have the task of detecting the force that is impressed on the pedals, sending messages to the control unit to calibrate the support that the cyclist needs. This last function is defined as "assisted pedaling". The e-bike therefore behaves like a normal bicycle if the motor is not operated. When the motor is activated, the person pedaling is "helped" in the effort. This does not mean that you go faster, but that you fatigue less and maintain the pace with greater ease.  The power required can increase or decrease and is adjusted via a small computer located on the handlebars. The settings depend on the model, the price range and the set-up of the bike. In general, however, we find three levels of assistance: eco, sport (or trail), turbo (or boost).

Article 50 of the Highway Code makes a clear distinction between the muscle bike and the pedal assisted bike. "The velocipedes - we read - are the vehicles with two wheels or more wheels functioning with exclusively muscular propulsion, by means of pedals or similar devices, operated by the persons on the vehicle; bicycles with pedal assistance are also considered velocipedes, equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kw whose power supply is progressively reduced and finally interrupted when the vehicle reaches 25 km/h or sooner if the cyclist stops pedaling".

European Directive 2002/24 defines e-bikes as vehicles "equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW whose power supply is progressively reduced and finally cut off when the vehicle reaches 25 km/h or sooner if the cyclist stops pedaling".

The e-bike differs from the electric bicycle, also called speed pedelec. In this case we are talking about vehicles that are assimilated to mopeds. Therefore, there is no relationship between pedaling and motor because it is not necessary to pedal to move the bike. These means also do not comply with the definition provided by Directive 2002/24, but fall within a regulation that distinguishes them in L1eA and L1eB.

In category L1eA we find two or three-wheeled cycles that are designed with pedal traction and are equipped with an auxiliary electric motor with a rated power of less than 1000 W, capable of expressing speeds that do not exceed 25 km/h. In the L1eB category we find the two or three-wheeled cycles equipped with an electric motor with a maximum continuous rated power of up to 4000 W and a construction speed that does not exceed 45 km/h.