High-tech 'floating' bike hire scheme scoops Danish prize

No docking stations or hire points for winning entry

A public bike hire scheme that doesn't require docking stations or central hire points has been mooted for Copenhagen.

All the technology needed to run the OPENbike system – primarily GSM/GPRS that uses the mobile phone network – would be integrated into the bikes themselves, with power provided by a hub dynamo.

When not in use, the bikes could be left in any of the city's existing cycle stands. They would be activated using a smartcard, and any unauthorised use would result in an alarm going off and the bike's location being traced. Electric vehicles would be used to distribute the cycles across the city.

The bikes would be "recognisable and sturdy", with small wheels for strength, high-volume tyres for comfort, a belt drive, single gear, automatic lighting and decent luggage capacity. A number of cargo/family bikes would also be available.

The OPENbike system, which is a collaboration between LOTS Design, Koucky & Partners and Green Idea Factory, won joint first prize in a competition to design possible bike hire schemes for the Danish capital.

The other first-prize winner, the Myloop system, also seeks to reduce the relatively large amount of space taken up by current docking station models for bike hire.

Under this scheme, cycles would be 'latched' onto each another when parked to save space and recharge their integrated GPS equipment, which would be used to keep track of hirers and distribution across the city. Myloop also envisages hubless, spokeless rims, secured to the bike via a nylon guiding band. 

However, don't expect to see either system on Copenhagen's streets any time soon. The city’s existing bike share system is expected to run until 2012, and the goal is to have a new system fully in place by spring 2013.

The powers that be have not said that either winner's idea will be the final design adopted. "The next step regarding which ideas to integrate and how to do it will be taken when a political decision on the exact process towards a new bike share system has been made," says the competition website.

Copenhagen was an innovator in bike share programs when, in 1995, it launched ByCyklen – City Bikes. This was the first large-scale urban bike share programme featuring specially-designed bikes with parts that could not be used on other bikes.

Light electric vehicles would be used to redistribute OPENbike cycles around the city

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