In 2016 Rotterdam will be testing the Gobike electric bike share system. This Danish system is already operational in Copenhagen, Stavanger and Barcelona. How does the Gobike work and how does it compare to other bike rental options in Rotterdam?
The Gobike electric bike share system. Photos © Tony Webster
The Gobike electric bike share system is part of Rotterdam's ambitious plans to change from a city of cars into a city of bikes - Rotterdam hopes to be able to contend for the title of Cycling City of the Netherlands in 2018. The idea behind the new bike share system is that increasing the number of locations where bikes can be rented will stimulate bike use in the city, especially among tourists and commuters.
The pilot will start with just a small number of Gobikes that will be available on locations such as tourist attractions, museums and public transport hubs. At the end of 2017 there are to be 450 bikes in twenty locations. If the project is a success, Gobike hopes to have two thousand bikes on 150 locations all over Rotterdam in five years time.
How does it work?
The Gobike is an e-bike with a large tablet screen integrated into the handle bars. The tablet has an inbuilt navigation system that will help you find your way around the city and also offers tourist information.
To use the bike share system you first need to register via the Gobike website. You can do this at home or on location via the tablet on one of the bikes. The website will tell you how many bikes are available at all the docking stations. If you want, you can reserve a bike in advance. The bikes don't have to be returned to the same docking station. The costs for using a Gobike will be 2.50 euro for two hours, which you are allowed to spread this out over the day. Payment by credit card only.
At the time of writing this, the Gobike website [September 2019 - link no longer available] doesn't mention the date the new bike share system will start operating. So check out their website first for the latest information.
Renting a bike in Holland is easy and not that expensive. You can rent a bike at tourist sites, your accommodation, train stations, bike repair shops and many other locations. Dutch Rail also offers the OV-bicycle scheme, which is available at most train stations and several other locations all over the country. So what does the Gobike share system have that other bike rental options don't offer?
Gobike's unique selling point is that the bikes can be picked up at one location and dropped off at another, giving you more flexibility than other bike rental options. The idea is that, once the system is fully operational, there will be a large number of docking stations strategically located all over the city of Rotterdam.
"You can go to a restaurant and have a something to eat. Then you go back to pick up the same or a different bike and continue your journey. That's the big difference. You don't ride from and to the train station, but in the city from location to location," City of Rotterdam Alderman Pex Langenberg who is responsible for this project explains.
Gobike versus alternatives
The city of Rotterdam signed the contract with Gobike in February. Remarkably, exactly at that time the bike share system in Copenhagen had been temporarily put on hold. Gobike has been much criticised in the Danish press. With the total cost per bike amounting to nine thousand euro for a period of 8 years, it was thought to be too expensive. Some considered the Dutch OV-bicycle scheme a much better alternative.
So if you're planning a visit to Rotterdam this summer, what's the best bike rental option for you? That will very much depend on what your plans are. To help you choose, here is an overview of what the different options have to offer:
|Gobike||OV-bicycle||Regular bike rental|
|Where?||City of Rotterdam||Whole of Holland||Whole of Holland|
|How to rent ||Registration via website||Annual subscription |
(Dutch bank account required)
|No fixed system|
|Payment||Payment by credit card only||Automatic payment via bank account||Any type of payment, a deposit might be required|
|Price||2.50 euro for 2 hours a day||3.35 for 24 hours (max. 72 hours)||No fixed price or rental period|
|Pick up & drop off ||No extra fee for returning bike to different location||Extra fee for returning bike to different location||Usually bike has to be returned to same location|
|Reservation||Reservations possible||No reservations||Reservations possible|
|Type of bike||e-bike with tablet||Bike without gears||Many types of bike available, including children's bikes and accessories such as bike seats and bike trailers|
Rotterdam City pages
Do you want to explore Rotterdam by bike? On our Rotterdam City pages you'll find all the information you need. From bike rental companies to cycle routes and guided tours. From city cycle maps to bike-friendly accommodation. For an overview of bike rental companies in Rotterdam, go to our Bicycle rental in Rotterdam page.