Why the horrible name?
I don't know. I guess there is no more uncreative name for a shared bike system than Citybike Wien. Of course, the name should be somehow connected to bikes and also kind of international, but why do we have to give up our identity for the most boring name? Why not ViennaRad or WienRad or Radln (would mean both "biking" and "bikes").. But hm, we might as well have to live with Citybike now ;-).
Why long tradition?
The Citybike system is one of the oldest ones of its kind. It was launched in 2003. There was even a forerunner model, the so-called Viennabikes, that started out in 2001 resp. 2002, but it was stopped due to vandalism and return problems. Sometimes, however, good ideas need more than one go and I'm glad that they started all over again with the more settled Citybike system.
Currently Vienna has 60 stations, most of which are located in the center -- inside the Gürtel (Vienna has a ring structure, the Gürtel is the outer ring) and the 2nd district. Each station can hold about 20 bikes. Informations about available bikes (and empty slots) can be found on the homepage and the terminals at the stations. Since the previous winter the bikes are available all year round, 7 days a week and 24 hours a day (earlier they had a winter break).
Citybikes can be rent using Maestro cards (i.e. Austrian bankomat cards), credit cards and special Citybike cards which are -- in a modification -- also available for tourists. Preregistration can either be done online or at a terminal. The one-time registration fee is only 1€ and this will even be credited to future rides. So if you're in Vienna the next time, simply take out your credit card and get yourself a bike!
Once at a terminal one simply has to choose a bike, put the card in the slot and type in a password. And off you go.. This process makes it slightly slower than e.g. the BiCiNg system, but it's very safe.
Left: large Citybike station in front of the Votivkirche in the center Right: blue and yellow bikes with ads
As already explained, everybody can easily hop on a bike. While a lot of tourists use the system in the summer, the majority of the users is Viennese.
Apart from the tiny registration fee there are also small running costs. The first hour is free of charge, the second one costs 1€ for the commenced hour, the third 2€ and all further ones 4€/hour. If the bike is not returned within 120 hours, the loss of the bike costs you 600€. After a break of 15min the clock starts from scratch.
Why is it so cheap? The system belongs to an advertising company, Gewista, that puts up ads on the skirt guard, the wheels and the basket. The city of Vienna also sponsors the systems by e.g. paying for new stations.
According to the chief of Citybike Wien, 98% of the journeys are within one hour and are therefore completely free of charge. The average borrowed time is about 20min.
My dad enjoys his ride on a yellow Citybike
The Citybike is a supplement to the public transport system and not meant for long-term use. Although I have my own bike I often use it to get to and from train stations and when my bike is at the mechanic (the next Citybike stations are around 2km away, but as a bike addict I don't mind walking there ;-)). It's also practical if I have guests that couldn't bring their own bikes.
So, why not? Check out their website for more information: www.citybikewien.at (in German and English)