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    Shared transport is all the rage as Billy Bike opens up to all

    © Belga
    Lime scooters, neatly lined up
    © Belga

    Lime, the American company which provides electric scooters for rent in Brussels, risks being fined by the commune of Uccle unless it takes action to prevent its scooters being abandoned by users on the streets of the commune, municipal authorities have warned. Lime is just the latest in a series of companies offering short-term rentals of bicycles, electric scooters, mopeds and cars. And the Brussels public can’t get enough. Since their introduction in 12 of the 19 Brussels communes last November, the 1,200 Lime scooters have been used for 150,000 journeys for a total of 220,000km.

    The most popular playgrounds for Lime are the city centre, the European quarter and the Chatelain area of Ixelles, with the single most popular route between the Bourse and the cathedral.

    Lime started off unregulated, but as with shared bikes, growing popularity together with a a certain carefree abandon among users has now led to new rules.

    From 1 February, anyone offering bike and scooter shares in Brussels will need to have a licence to operate, according to an ordinance proposed by Brussels region mobility minister Pascal Smet and supported by the other parties. The conditions of the licence include a minimum number of two-wheelers – including the mopeds of Scooty – made available, certain technical norms, and the sharing of information on the number of users. Vehicles using fossil fuels are excluded, and others must operate on green energy.

    The rules also limit the numbers of vehicles made available at certain popular spots such as Flagey, ban parking on places like the Grand Place and oblige companies to ensure their users are following the Highway Code – a rule it might be difficult to police, and which is certainly not the case at present.

    Meanwhile Billy Bike, launched a year ago in a limited test phase, has now opened up its platform to allow anyone to download and use the app which unlocks the blue-trim bicycles. The company plans to double its fleet of 150 bikes by March, and in time to extend its range beyond the test area of Brussels-City, Saint-Gilles, Ixelles and Etterbeek.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times