VeloCity: Aachen makes bike sharing electric

Many students have to climb steep hills as they make their way to the university in Aachen. No wonder the bicycle is not the most popular means of transport there. But this might soon change: Launched in 2013 as a student initiative at RWTH Aachen University and professionalised to form a company in 2014, Project Velocity Aachen is to launch an e-bike rental system for the entire city in 2016.

When they were still students, the two founders Dennis Brinckmann and Tobias Meurer analysed the traffic situation in the city and developed their vision for Velocity Aachen. Because of the topography of the university town at the foot of the Eifel mountains, it quickly became clear that a bicycle rental system using electric bicycles should be set-up. The project is intended to offer all citizens the opportunity to use an electric bike and thus to travel around the city in a particularly dynamic and climate-friendly manner while at the same time reducing urban traffic congestion. The bicycles only "refuel" on green electricity from Stadtwerke Aachen AG (STAWAG).

Engine for progress:

  • unique e-bike rental system
  • high density of stations planned in the city
  • CO2-reduction by reducing car traffic
  • transferred from science to practice
  • central building block for urban mobility

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Photo: Velocity Aachen

The first charging station at RWTH Aachen University Computer Science Centre.

An affordable rental system with comprehensive cover

The project is very ambitious. A total of 100 stations are to make 1,000 electric bikes available. The rental system will cover the entire urban area like almost no other system in any German city. It will work like established bike sharing programmes and will not be much more expensive: With costs starting from EUR 6.50 per month for an annual subscription, hiring electric bicycles is very economical.

Challenges solved with own developments

The unique selling points also present certain challenges. In the absence of comparable systems using electric vehicles, the developers had almost no access to the experience of others. The bicycles were partially self-constructed and the parts for this were procured as locally as possible. The power connection to the stations is also a challenge that conventional bicycle rental systems do not have to face.

Now, the biggest obstacles have been overcome, the test station is up and running and more stations are being installed. By the summer of 2016, the project will have been further expanded to include 20 rental stations and 100 bicycles. Science also benefits from Velocity's experience: The project is participating in the EMOVE research project by RWTH Aachen University, FH Aachen and the City of Aachen along with other partners. It analyses electric mobility fleets, stations and networks.

Already part of the city

Velocity plays an important role in urban mobility and is part of the major "Aachen Goes Electric" plan. The City of Aachen supported the founding of the company and officially assigned the task of developing an e-bike rental system to Velocity. The project has also attracted great attention and is being followed closely by the general public. The citizens of the City of Aachen are, for example, involved in location planning for the rental stations.

Fotos: Velocity Aachen

"With 'Velocity Aachen' e-bike sharing, we want to create a convenient and environmentally friendly service for urban mobility that is characterised by seamless integration and intelligent networking with other mobility services."

Dennis Brinckmann, Managing Director

"The digitisation of society and the availability of economical electric vehicles offer enormous potential for flexible and environmentally friendly mobility that makes our cities more liveable."

Tobias Meurer, Managing Director

Partners and sponsors

  • Velocity Aachen
  • RWTH Aachen University
  • Fachhochschule Aachen
Counselling centers:
  • Gr├╝nderzentrum der RWTH Aachen
  • IHK Aachen
  • Stadt Aachen