Hamburgers love their Stadtrad. What has begun as a spin-off joint-venture between Deutsche Bahn and the City of Hamburg in July 2009, has meanwhile turned into a vital part of urban modal transport with more than 1,000,000 rides per year.
A quick excursion about German innovation history: while most people celebrate the fame and success of bike sharing services such as Velib or the infamous Boris Bikes in London, credit is rarely given to Christian Hogl and Josef Grundel who invented a telephone-based booking system for public bikes back in 1998. The service was later acquired under rather strange circumstances by Deutsche Bahn and introduced as a German premiere in the city of Munich in 2000.
“Credit is rarely given to Christian Hogl and Josef Grundel who invented a telephone-based booking system for public bikes back in 1998.”
Back to Hamburg and my morning stroll to work. Probably as in any bike-sharing savvy city, you get a pretty good picture on how people use those bikes through simple observation: mainly for commutes to work, the next train station or for the occasional week-end bike tour with friends on a Hamburg visit. So what happens each and every morning is a heavy demand on the Stadtrad bikes in probably any station within a residential area.
As probably most people are employed in the city centre, you get to see empty Stadtrad stations in the living areas, such as Karoviertel in the early morning while the more central stations are stacked with bikes.
Same with late-night Fridays or Saturdays, when party people move in swarms to nightlife hot spots.
What Stadtrad does to match supply and demand for the bikes is to re-stock them using a fleet of minivans. It is obviously kind of effective to transport multiple bikes in a van, but still– the vans are run on a combustion diesel engine. Bad.
Why don’t we develop a re-stocking scheme that sources the community of Stadtrad Hamburg members?
Here is how Haruki would approach the issue:
- Identify specific audiences within the Stadtrad community who might be available to re-stock the bikes in rush-hour times (e.g. students).
- Define a sufficient incentive for re-stockers that makes it desirable to be part of any re-stocking team (e.g. cash, free minutes, vouchers, community leadership…)
- That could be it.