Ljubljana introduced the self-service rent-a-bike system Bicikelj two months ago, following the lead of several other European cities which have had success in integrating bike rental into their public transport networks.
The system was set up by billboard operator Europlakat in cooperation with Ljubljana municipality as part of a private-public partnership.
Offering 300 bikes and 29 stations in the wider city centre area, Bicikelj has reached unforeseen popularity shortly after its introduction in May 2011. Until 22 June, the number of registered users of Bicikelj was 16,870.
The daily number of rentals in Ljubljana is around 2,500, which is comparable to the figure in Vienna (3,000), even thought the system in the Austrian capital is bigger and has been in place for much longer.
The two most popular stations are in the city centre; next to Nama department store and in Preseren square.
Despite its unexpected popularity, the company operating the bicycle rental system is currently not yet thinking about expanding the existing network.
Europlakat general manager Bostjan Bercan allowed for the possibility that the shopping centres on the outskirts of the city might soon express interest in being included in the network.
He admitted that Europlakat did not expect the network to become so popular so soon after the network was launched, since experience from abroad showed that the number of users increased gradually.
The Ljubljana municipality, which has also been surprised by the popularity of Bicikelj, stated that the system was originally intended to complement the public bus network, adding that, on some routes, Bicikelj was already starting to replace the bus.