During the active bicycling season this year, the popularity of rented bicycles has tripled, reaching almost 10,000 registered rides. Local residents were most active, representing 70% of these rents, according to the Sixt company, which rents bikes. Because of demand, bicycles will be available for rent in Rīga throughout the winter.
The average length of bike rides on rented bicycles has been 3.2 hours – local residents usually rent bikes for shorter periods of time while foreigners often rent bikes for as much as a week, using them as a good way to better explore Rīga, Jūrmala and the surrounding area. This season more than 200 cyclists bought rent subscriptions so that they could ride bicycles throughout the season.
Experience shows that bicycles are one of the swiftest forms of transportation in urban environments. For instance, it takes only 12 minutes or so at any time of the day to travel the nearly 3 km distance between the Olimpia shopping centre in Pārdaugava to the Radisson Blu Hotel Latvia.
“The culture of bicycling is flourishing in Riga,” says Arnis Jaudzems, the Sixt General manager in the Baltic States. “This is down to the development of infrastructure, as well as favourable weather conditions that have allowed people to ride their bikes even during the coldest months of the year. We’re going to extend the season by offering rented bikes during the winter, too. Scandinavian experience shows that cooler weather is no obstacle against bicycling. The main thing is to dress warmly and to have an attitude that allows one to use the advantages that relate to bicycling throughout the year.”
This will be the first year that bicycles will be rented out after the end of the official season, offering such bikes in the winter, too. From the end of November till the beginning of next April, there will be 30 bikes in Rīga at the five most popular rental stations – outside the Radisson Blu Hotel Latvia, on the corner of Pulkveža Brieža and Elizabetes streets, on the corner of Tallinas and Miera streets, on the corner of Vaļņu and Kaļķu streets, and on the corner of Kalnciema and Slokas streets. Clients with subscriptions will be able to ride the bikes for two hours each day with no additional fees until March 31, 2015.
This year Sixt has substantially increased its network of rental stations, as well as the number of bikes that are available there – 29 rental stations in Rīga and Jūrmala with 250 bicycles in all.