Where did all the bikes go?

A familiar sight these days. Hopefully a temporary one.
A familiar sight these days. Hopefully a temporary one.

When i tried to get a Bicikelj hire bike last week and someone just got the last available one in front of me, I didn’t panic yet. But when almost a kilometre further on, at the second station of the Ljubljana rental bikes, the last bike again got taken just when I arrived things got annoying. My 15 minute ride to my language course would become an almost 45 minute walk full of nuisances.

Don’t be mistaken, the Bicikelj-system and I are great friends. Shortly after I arrived in Slovenia last summer I took a 1 euro subscription on the rental bikes. The Bicikeljs are like the Velibs of Paris. You can get a bike at a station, ride it and leave it again at another station. It’s great for in the city. You never have to worry about your bike. Sorry, you never had to worry.

Since last week most of the bikes disappeared. After I missed out at the first two stations, the third and fourth station I found were also empty and when I arrived at the fifth I was just in time to see a man and a woman take off with the last two bikes. I was over halfway of my journey and decided to walk the remainder of my trip. It wasn’t much of choice anyway with all bikes being gone.

Last Sunday I had a similar experience. While I could get a bike at the station near my apartment and ride to town, I wasn’t able to get a bike to ride back. It was a beautiful, quiet and sunny Sunday morning so having to go for a walk wasn’t a punishment but I am getting a little worried now. Where did the bikes go?

Did the bikes become a victim of their own success? The bicikeljs are quite popular. After the first year and a half Bicikelj got 40.000 users. Each of the 300 bikes makes at least six rides a day.

I hope and pray that the availability of the bikes will be on par soon. If not, I’m afraid I will have to descend to the basement of our building and get the dusty old mountainbike in our storage room out of the spider webs for restoration. That task is for now even less appealing than having to walk to town.

How it used to be and hopefully soon will be again. Plenty of bikes to choose from.
How it used to be and hopefully soon will be again. Plenty of bikes to choose from.

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