Since the spring, Žilina residents have been able to use public bicycles free of charge on the town’s main traffic arteries. At the end of last year, the first docking stations were installed in the streets so that cyclists have access to 20 stations with a total of 160 docking stands and 120 bicycles. The docking stations are located mainly in the town centre and the inner suburbs to serve important traffic nodes for the town. In the initial phase of the project, the town will monitor the stations to analyse and evaluate which locations would be suitable for additional stations.

Every bicycle is equipped with a GPS tracker. The stations are made up of bike stands and an information panel that describes the system. They are also equipped with modern technology such as NFC card readers, GPS and Wi-Fi location detection, GSM communication and e-locks. Bicycles can be borrowed after registration in the system and verification of the user’s payment card.
Bike sharing is based on a network of stands connected over the Internet. The idea of the system is for people to share bicycles rather than rent them for long periods. The longest distance between stations is 5 km and most are about 500 m apart. Cyclists thus have a choice of where to return bicycles. They can then take it again from the same stand. The procedure for borrowing a bike is to register on the web or through the application and then to unlock a bike on a stand using their smartphone. The most efficient way to share bicycles is for everyone to park them in stands. Users can rent a bicycle free of charge for one hour multiple times per day. It is enough to return the bicycle within an hour and then borrow another, once again free of charge. This makes it relatively quick and easy for people to get where they need to go without filling the air with exhaust gases.
At present, since the start of February, users have been able to register in the system via the website www.bikekia.sk or the BikeKIA mobile application, which is available on both Android and iOS. Registration is simple and free. Users need only enter basic personal data and payment card information. Although bike sharing will be free of charge in Žilina, payment card data is needed for potential penalties for damaging bikes or returning them late. After registration, a cyclist can use their smartphone to unlock one of the bicycles on a stand. Experience in other towns suggests that the average length of a bike rental is 15 to 20 minutes.
The foundation Nadácia Kia Motors Slovakia has donated EUR 320,000 to finance the BikeKIA project and will co-finance the project with the Town of Žilina for the next five years, during which users will be able to ride bicycles free of charge throughout the season. In the initial phase of the project, the town will monitor the stations to analyse and evaluate which locations would be suitable for additional stations.
Further information can be found on www.bikekia.sk or the BikeKIA Facebook and Instagram accounts.

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