December 16, 2017
Ljubljana is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, as seen by the people of all ages and classes cycling around town on ordinary bikes and in ordinary clothing, with hardly any Lycra or carbon fibre in sight. One way to join in the fun if you’re from out of town is to rent one of the city bikes, available under the Bicikelj programme, although residents should also consider joining this, as just 3 EUR a year can get you unlimited free rides, any time you want, as long as you return the bikes within an hour.
As in similar programmes, the system is based around terminals and bike stands, or stations, and you can pick up a bike or drop one off at any of these.
The station in front of Cacao, near Three Bridges
Before using one of the bikes you need to get into the system, and that can only be done online. Go to this page on the website and choose whether you want a seven-day or one-year membership, at 1 and 3 EUR, respectively.
You’ll need an email address, and when you register online you choose a PIN, pay, and then you’re sent 5- or 6-digit identification number, and a 12-digit identification code, which you need to enter into a terminal on your first visit. You only need to enter the PIN once if you have an Urbana card, which is then connected to your account and unlocks the service by being placed in front of a terminal. Without an Urbana, you’ll need to enter the PIN each time.
For visitors who feel a little unsure, perhaps the best station is the one outside the Tourist Information Centre near the main market and opposite the Puppet Theatre, where there’s also a pump and some tools for cycle repair, although these are more for private bikes than public ones, which are generally in very good condition.
You should also note that there’s a 350 EUR deposit for each bike, although this only leaves your bank account if something happens, the most important thing being failure to return a bike within 24 hours.
The fees for using the bike are deducted direct from your account, and start at the very reasonable free for the first hour, 1 EUR for the second, 2 EUR for the third, and then 4 EUR each hour beyond that. Since the first hour is always free, and not just on the first day you use the service, the trick is to get on a bike and drop it off at a station in less than this, something that’s pretty easy to do downtown, as shown in the map with all the stations below (click here for a more interactive version).
There are plenty of stations downtown. Screenshot from Google Maps
When you’re part of system, just go to a terminal and hold your Urbana card or enter your PIN. The screen will then let you choose a bike to unlock, with all instructions available in several languages.
When you return your bike to a station, check what the screen says after locking it back in. If it says the bike is still rented, then there’s a problem, and you can call 080 2334. If there are no spaces at a station, then just put your Urbana near the screen and you’ll get an extra 15 minutes free to find another station. You can check the details of your account at any terminal, and if you have an annual subscription then you can also do this online.