The independent guide to Zurich


Zurich prides itself on its ability to revere its traditions while also embracing the future. Unfortunately, for some reason it often takes the Swiss longer to implement innovations than other nations. This also seems to be the case regarding bicycle rental in Zurich.

For many years now the city has planned to install a bike rental system with automated pick-up and drop-off stations like those of many other major cities around the globe and especially throughout Europe. A company was finally chosen to begin the process by setting up the first of 150 planned stations in 2018, but, as is often the case, the market acted faster. Hundreds of yellow bikes owned by the Singapore-based company Obike appeared over the course of the summer at public bike parking areas. These bikes are part of a free-floating bike rental system and can be rented via an app and be parked anywhere after being used.

It’s no secret that the Swiss love to complain and complain they did. Instead of supporting a long-awaited bike rental system, locals griped that the new bicycles blocked current parking places and that they were often left in areas where parking is prohibited. And while we agree that the approach of the company to surprise the city by flooding it with hundreds of bikes without even informing the authorities is questionable, to say the least, we think that the free-floating approach has lots of advantages that can’t be ignored. It’s even rumoured that the official company chosen by the city is now also considering a free-floating system that will allow cyclists to leave the bikes where it’s most convenient for them. In the meantime the city is setting up rules for bike rental companies that use public spaces.

It looks like the subject will remain a hot topic of discussion, so don’t be surprised by a sudden influx of bicycles around town as you explore Zurich – on two wheels or on foot.

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