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Focus on Total Freedom

Call a Bike celebrates its 10th birthday

In almost 60 major cities throughout Germany, Deutsche Bahn has offered its customers mobility on two wheels since 2002. The bikes are instantly recognisable from their striking design and eye-catching red and silver paintwork.

The DB rental bicycles wait for urban customers at many major railway stations and, in metropolises such as Berlin, Munich and Cologne, also at underground stations, major city squares and intersections. The bikes are the ideal addition to local public transport for customers who only have to cover short distances and are looking for an alternative to car. Call a Bike has won a completely new group of customers for DB: commuters wishing to cycle the last few kilometres from the underground station to the office, students who want to get from A to B quickly and inexpensively and, last but not least, city dwellers who thanks to Call a Bike now frequently leave the car in the garage and spontaneously opt for a bike as the environment friendly means of transport.

Spontaneity is the key to the success of Call a Bike: the bikes are ready for use at railway stations and many other places and enable pedestrians to become cyclists immediately. Registered customers can use their mobile phone or chip card to check in, set off immediately, and then check out again at their destination. They receive a monthly invoice by e-mail or post. It couldn’t be simpler. “The credit for the nationwide development of a fully automatic rental system for bikes goes to Deutsche Bahn«, says Rolf Lübke. The Chairman of the Management Board of DB Rent, who is also responsible for Call a Bike, quotes impressive figures: between 2005 and 2012, the number of registered customers multiplied by five, reaching a total of 430,000. In 2011, the cycling capitals were Munich, with 1,200 bicycles and almost 135,000 cycling hours, followed by Frankfurt am Main and Berlin. In almost all cities in which Call a Bike is available, the number of registered customers and the total rental periods are achieving annual growth of double figures.

Call a Bike is constantly being improved and makes the most of new technical developments. When the bicycle rental system was first invented ten years ago, using a mobile phone to check in and out was a spectacular innovation. Nowadays, customers in many cities no longer even have to have a mobile phone to rent or return a bike. »Some cities are now installing rental stations with pillars where customers use a chip card to check in,« explains Rolf Lübke. And thanks to GPS, customers in Frankfurt am Main, for example, have recently been able to check out simply by pressing a button.

This successful product has enhanced DB’s profile as an efficient provider of public mobility chains using train and bus – followed by the seamless transition to bicycle.

The BMW automobile group has declared Call a Bike the official means of transport for its 60,000 employees when they have to cover short distances on the company premises. In Tel Aviv, the »TEL OFAN« version – the first of its kind in Israel – has operated its bright green bikes under a DB licence for the past year. DB Rent is currently bidding for the contract for a public bicycle rental system in the Danish capital of Copenhagen.

How can I become a Call-a-Bike customer?

Anyone who has registered as a Call a Bike customer can use the DB bicycles in all 60 participating cities throughout Germany. There are two different charging systems: the basic rate – for sporadic users – costs 8 cents per minute [max. EUR 15 per day, max. EUR 9 per day for BahnCard holders and students]. The flat-rate charges are recommended for customers planning to use bikes regularly. For a flat annual sum of EUR 48 [BahnCard holders: EUR 36; students EUR 24 ], the first 30 minutes of each rental are free of charge. [The first 30 minutes are always free for all customers using the Hamburg StadtRAD version.] Charges as from the 31st minute are 8 cents per minute. Payments can be made by credit card or direct debit.

Further information and registration at www.callabike.de, Tel. +49 (0)7000/522 55 22 [German landline calls: Mo–Fr 9:00 am – 6:00 pm 12.6 cents/min, all other times 6.3 cents/min, mobile phone charges may vary].

Last modified: 25.05.2012

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