Reykjavík is the latest city to get a cycle hire scheme. An initial 100 WOWcitybikes have been introduced at eight solar-powered stations around the city. The bikes have three gears, brakes and adjustable seats. In preparation for Iceland’s variable weather, they are also rust-proof, with aluminium frames and steel accessories, and tyres designed to be puncture-proof.
There are stations in the centre and the Old Harbour area, stretching west to Ylstrondin Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach and east to Laugardalur. The pink bikes can be hired for 30 minutes for Kr350, with no membership required. Passes covering unlimited 30-minute trips over 30 and 90 days and a year are also available.
Dagur B Eggertsson, Mayor of Reykjavik, commented: “I’m really excited that this initiative has become a reality. We have been aiming for this in Reykjavik for some time and we thank WOW air for their cooperation. The city supplies the land and WOW air oversees the operation. The bicycles are bright and sturdy, but also easy to ride. I hope that citizens of Reykjavik and travellers to the city will embrace this venture and explore the city on two wheels.”
In 2007, Paris launched the first large-scale bike sharing scheme. It was used by 20 million people in its first year, and similar initiatives have spread to cities including Dublin, London, Shanghai, Singapore, New York, as well as most of the Netherlands. While some schemes have struggled – notably in Seattle and Dublin – most have proved highly successful.
Iceland is also popular with road cyclists and mountain bikers, who can use two wheels to access remote trails or even tackle the length of the country’s Ring Road. Bikes can also be hired or used on guided tours at locations across Iceland, but WOWcitybike is the first scheme to use docking stations around the capital.