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Billy Bike to double number of electric bicycles in Brussels
Electric bike provider Billy Bike is more than doubling its number of bicycles in Brussels from 450 to 1,000, according to an announcement by the company’s CEO Pierre De Schaetzen in the business newspaper L'Echo.
The company first revealed earlier in 2020, during the first round of coronavirus restrictions, that it hoped to double the number of electric sharing bikes it offers in the capital by spring 2021 after the departure of rival provider, Jump. The recent announcement suggests that De Schaetzen is making good on that promise by rolling out more available bicycles.
However, things have not gone entirely to plan for Billy Bike as its performance during the pandemic year has been rather mixed. "Our bikes did have an impact, but there have been far fewer trips than were forecast," says De Schaetzen.
Nevertheless, he sees a brighter future for Billy Bike: "With the introduction of the 30kph general speed restriction zone, the expansion of the number of cycle paths and the low emission zone, the bicycle maintains a dominant position in Brussels."
During the summer, Billy Bike raised €223,000 through a crowdfunding campaign in order to expand its fleet. The result of that campaign is that Billy Bike can now increase the number of its bicycles from 450 bicycles to 1,000. The company originally raised €2 million to establish itself, and now boasts 588 shareholders.
De Schaetzen hopes that with the doubling of the fleet, the number of journeys by bicycle will also increase. "At the moment, many users are opening the app and realising that there is no bike close enough, or that their destination is outside our control area," the chief executive said. This is likely to change with the increase in available bikes.
At the moment, Billy Bike employs seven full-time employees, but also employs students to cope with the spikes in usage. They work shifts of four hours, in which they ride through the city to the location of Billy Bikes to replace batteries and clean and disinfect the bikes.
In the longer term, the company wants to expand into other Belgian and Dutch cities, once their model in Brussels is economically proven.