Need a bicycle on campus but don’t have one? No problem. With Ewout Oonk’s bicycle rent system, everyone can rent a bike.
© Stijn van Gils
Oonk got the idea from a newspaper. ‘A mobile application for bicycle rental is on the rise in China. User can use their smartphones to rent a bicycle and park it elsewhere’, says the fourth-year Bachelor’s student of Soil, Water and Atmosphere. ‘I thought to myself that we should have something similar here in Wageningen. I subsequently discovered that open source software for bike rentals exists, but that almost nobody uses it. So I decided to do myself.’
Oonk has since established a small company called Cykl and has – after consultation – put eight refurbished bicycles near buildings owned by WUR and student accommodation provider Idealis. You can use your smartphone to buy credit to rent a bicycle, look up the exact locations of the bikes and rent a bicycle if you would want to. ‘Only people with a WUR account have access to the service. This way, I can verify the identity of the user and don’t need to ask for a deposit.’
All bicycles have a number lock and an identification number. As soon as you enter in the id in the app and tap ‘rent’, you receive the code for the lock and you can start cycling. The costs are one euro per 30 minutes. ‘It is meant for destinations within Wageningen, not for a tour around the Veluwe. I do not want to compete with bike rental companies.’ Oonk uses the summer period to continue testing the application.
For the time being, only the student’s friends have used the service, but similar projects with similar software have already proved themselves in other cities. A great example is the many white bicycles that were once discarded by the Hoge Veluwe that are now used in the Slovak capital of Bratislava. A similar service (article in Dutch) has also just been started in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
For now, Oonk considers his little company an experiment. ‘If it really catches on, I might continue with it after graduating. Maybe I can even combine it with my discipline and add weather sensors on the bicycles, for example.’
If you want to test the application for yourself, visit the webpage at www.cykl.nl.