Billy Bike, the Brussels bike-share system for electric bicycles, is to turn to crowdfunding to finance an expansion. Billy Bike currently has 150 bikes available for users, but only in the communes of Etterbeek, Ixelles and part of the city centre. Since its beginnings in September last year, however, the system has attracted 500 users, who have used the bikes for a total of 15,000 journeys.
According to the company, the Brussels landscape is perfect for electric bicycles, with hills which make the heavy Villo bikes less popular for certain journeys. In fact, Villo has noticed a trend for bikes to be picked up in higher locations and left on lower ground, while the users turn to public transport to go back uphill. Villo now offers extra free minutes to users to tackle the uphill trip to return their bikes.
Billy Bike makes use of an app which subscribers can use to unlock a bike. The system has no parking stations; the idea is to pick up and leave off a bike whereever you like in the working area. One of the men behind the idea, Pierre De Schaetzen, came up with the system after his passion for the scooter-share system Scooty failed to find enthusiasts among his friends, who were unused to using scooters or simply unable to because they had no driving licence.
Billy Bike now intends to launch a crowdfunding appeal with Lita.co to raise €120,000 to pay for 150 new bikes, as well as the development of a GPS system and additional staff.