Bicycle, Antwerp

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  • Bicycle
    by Roadquill
  • Bicycle
    by Nemorino
  • Bicycle
    by Nemorino
  • Velo-antwerpen

    by AMWaldro Written Aug 26, 2013

    BEWARE! Although a day pass is very cheap there is a €150 block on your credit card for 30 DAYS! I made the mistake of buying 4 day passes on my card as my fellow travellers did not have a credit card and resulted in having a €600 block on my account! This left me with almost no money for the rest of my travels- I contacted velo-antwerpen in the hope that they could remove the block, especially as the bikes had been returned in good condition but they were unsympathetic. It is a good service but be careful.

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  • Velo-antwerpen

    by AMWaldro Written Aug 26, 2013

    BEWARE! Although a day pass is very cheap there is a €150 block on your credit card for 30 DAYS! I made the mistake of buying 4 day passes on my card as my fellow travellers did not have a credit card and resulted in having a €600 block on my account! This left me with almost no money for the rest of my travels- I contacted velo-antwerpen in the hope that they could remove the block, especially as the bikes had been returned in good condition but they were unsympathetic. It is a good service but be careful.

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    City Bicycle

    by Roadquill Written Aug 7, 2013

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    Located throughout the city are city bicycle stands where you sign up for a modest amount, and then can take a bike from spot to spot within a set period of time. I think it was something like 2 euros a day.

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    • Photography

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    Bike Point at the Central Railroad Station

    by Nemorino Written Jan 28, 2013

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    The Antwerp Centraal Station is not only an imposing and well-functioning railroad station, it also has a large bicycle garage at level -1, below ground level and above the new tunnel for the Thalys and other long-distance trains.

    The bicycle garage was inaugurated in 2007 when the new tunnel and the new lower level tracks were completed and went into service.

    In addition to providing dry and secure bicycle parking, the Bike Point at the center of the garage also includes a repair shop, a free air pump and I believe a bicycle washing machine such as the one I saw in Münster, Germany.

    Two of Antwerp’s three bike sharing systems are also located here: the Blue Bikes and the Yellow Bikes.

    Also the Velo-Antwerpen bicycle sharing system has two stations very close by: 001 Centraal Station Astrid and 004 De Keyserlei.

    The stated purpose of the Bike Points, which are also being established at other major railroad stations in Belgium, is to promote the combination of bicycle usage and public transport.

    As they say on their website: “Cycling is an important link in the chain of sustainable mobility. It has great potential as a means of transport to complete journeys that are undertaken by public transport. An important weapon in the fight against cars! People who use bicycles are therefore fully entitled to be well taken care of.”

    As in several other European countries, the Bike Points in Belgium also provide vocational training and jobs for young people who would otherwise be unemployed.

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    Bike station 032 Permeke

    by Nemorino Updated Jan 28, 2013

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    The Velo-Antwerpen bike station 032 Permeke is located at a square (actually shaped like a triangle) called De Coninckplein, which is about two long blocks north of the central railway station.

    When I was there in August 2012 it happened to be the third Sunday of the month, so an open-air book market was being held at De Coninckplein.

    The red bikes of the Velo-Antwerpen system all have luggage racks above the front wheel, so it is easy to transport books that you have bought at the book market.

    Second photo: Bicycle stands for people who ride their own bikes to the book market.

    Third photo: The book market at De Coninckplein.

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    • Cycling
    • Arts and Culture

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    Yellow Bikes

    by Nemorino Written Jan 27, 2013

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    The Fietshaven (Bicycle Harbor) is an initiative of the City of Antwerp, the student facilities service, the Association of Universities and High schools of Antwerp, the European Union and the Belgian National Railway.

    This initiative rents out bicycles to students, companies and tourists. It is located in the bicycle parking garage in the basement of the central railway station at the metro and bike entrance, Astridplein.

    They say their bicycles have “seven gears, very effective brakes and two locks. We have male, female, normal, smaller and very large frames available.”

    For comparison: the red and white Velo-Antwerp bikes have only three gears and are one-size-fits-all – you can just adjust the height of the seat. (Since Antwerp is perfectly flat, it seems to me that three gears are enough, but that’s just my personal opinion.)

    Rental prices for the yellow bikes (as of 2013) begin at 6.00 Euros for three hours or 13.00 Euros for one day (24 hours). If you rent for more than one day, the price per day goes down each day. These are roughly the prices you could expect to pay at a bicycle shop, but many tourists obviously find it convenient to rent at the station rather than searching for a bike shop somewhere in town.

    For comparison: The Velo-Antwerpen bikes cost 3 Euros for a one-day pass or 7 Euros for a seven-day pass, including unlimited rides of up to half an hour each.

    The yellow bikes are available only during opening hours of the Fietshaven (usually only 9.00-13.00 and 15.00-18.30), and you have to return the bike by 18.45 on your last (or only) day of rental.

    For comparison: The Velo-Antwerpen bikes are available 24/7 at 83 locations throughout the city center.

    The yellow bikes would certainly be an option if you wanted to take a long ride out into the countryside, which a lot of people do, but if you want to take lots of short rides within the city then the Velo-Antwerpen bikes are a better choice, especially if you are already familiar with bike-sharing systems in cities like Paris and Lyon.

    Second photo: A girl on a yellow bike near the Opera House.

    Third and fourth photos: Tourists on yellow bikes in the harbor district.

    Fifth photo: A yellow bike parked at the Museum Mayer van den Bergh.

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    Blue Bikes

    by Nemorino Written Jan 27, 2013

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    The Blue Bikes, which are available at 41 railway stations in Belgium, are intended mainly for people who do a lot of travelling by train within Belgium and want to use a bike when they arrive in each Belgian city. They pay 10 Euros per year plus 3.00 for each bike rental of up to eighteen hours – which is very reasonable if you do it often but not particularly advantageous if you only do it once or twice.

    These prices are as of 2013. They are lower than the prices I noted in 2011.

    I first noticed the Blue Bikes at the railway station in the Wallonian city of Liège, which surprised me because the Blue Bikes are mainly a Flemish project. Of the 41 Belgian railway stations that have Blue Bikes, only four or five are in Wallonia (if I have counted correctly), four are in Brussels and the rest are in Flanders. It is unusual for Wallonians to take part in a Flemish project (or visa-versa), but I think it’s a good thing.

    In Antwerp the Blue Bikes are available 24 hours a day in the bicycle garage below the central railroad station (Koningin Astridplein 27), provided you are already registered and have a card, but at some of the smaller stations the Blue Bikes are available only during the opening hours of the Bike Points, which usually means workdays from 7:00 to 19:00, closed on weekends and holidays.

    As a tourist I have not used the Blue Bikes, because more convenient (for me) options were available in both Liège and Antwerp. In Antwerp I used the red and white Velo-Antwerp bikes and in Liège I just went into the Bike Point at Guillemins Station and rented a bike at the counter.

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    Bike station 004 De Keyserlei

    by Nemorino Updated Jan 27, 2013

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    Unlike the Blue Bikes, which are available only by yearly subscription, and unlike the Yellow Bikes, which are rented out for at least half a day at a time, the red and white Velo-Antwerpen bikes are available at 83 locations around the center of Antwerp and are intended for short trips around town.

    The Velo-Antwerpen system works very much like Vélib’ in Paris or Vélo'v in Lyon, though it is run by a different company (JCDecaux in Paris and Lyon, Clear Channel in Antwerp).

    To use the Velo-Antwerpen system, I registered online at their website for a one-day pass, using my German credit card. This entitled me to unlimited rides on a single day, as long as each ride was not longer than half an hour.

    For longer rides there are additional charges. If you keep it for more than one and a half hours, it gets very expensive.

    I used the bikes intensively on that one day, and at the end of the month my credit card was billed for all of three Euros. You can also get a weekly pass the same way for seven Euros, or a yearly pass for 35 Euros.

    The red and white Velo-Antwerpen bikes are available 24/7, all year round.

    For more about how these bike sharing systems work, please have a look at the General aka Favorite Tips on my Paris page, where I have spelled it all out in considerable detail. The main difference is that Antwerp does not give you an extra fifteen minutes for riding uphill, as Paris does, simply because there aren’t any hills in Antwerp so they don’t have that particular problem.

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    Bike station 036 Bourla

    by Nemorino Updated Jan 27, 2013

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    The Velo-Antwerpen system went into operation in June 2011. Currently there are 83 bike stations spread all over the center of Antwerp, with 1000 bikes available. In a second phase of development (2013) they plan to increase the number of stations to about 150, equipped with 1800 bikes.

    At each station there is a vertical column with a map, an LCD display and a numeric keyboard. The maximum number of slots to lock bicycles is 36, but some of the stations are double-sided.

    The locking system is easy. You just lift the bike slightly and let the two rods fall into the two holes, and then the bike is locked and registered as returned. Gravity helps, and in my experience the mechanism works every time. In fact I find this easier than the docking system used in Paris and Lyon, where you might have to resort to brute force if something is bent out of shape or you don’t get the metal tongue into the slit of the docking stand at the correct angle.

    Location of bike station 036 Bourla: Corner of Schuttershofstraat and Huidevettersstraat, near the Bourla Theater (which was formerly the French Opera House).

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    Bike station 045 Falconplein

    by Nemorino Updated Jan 27, 2013

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    The Velo-Antwerpen system has several bike stations in the old shipping district, near the harbor.

    As you can see from the photos, people in Antwerp (like people in cities all over Europe) do not feel obliged to wear any special sort of bicycle clothing or equipment when they ride around town on bicycles. They just do it.

    Location of Falconplein on Google Maps.

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    Bike station 084 Elzenveld

    by Nemorino Written Jan 27, 2013

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    This is the Velo-Antwerpen station that I used most often, because it is located right in front the hotel Elzenveld, where I was staying.

    This bike station is on the square called Mechelseplein, at the tram stop of the same name. It is near the church of Saint Joris (visible in the fourth photo) and not far from the Botanical Garden (Plantentuin).

    As you can see from the first two photos, the height of the bicycle seats is easily adjustable (as in most such bike sharing systems), so one standard bike can be used by people of all sizes.

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    Velo-Antwerpen bike truck

    by Nemorino Written Jan 27, 2013

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    While I was riding around Antwerp on the red Velo-Antwerpen bikes, I never encountered a bike station that was completely empty or completely full. That is, I always found a bike if I needed one, and I always found a free docking space if I wanted to return my bike.

    The distribution of bikes is mainly self-regulating, because people are constantly checking out bikes in and out at various stations. But in case of a serious imbalance, there is also a truck that redistributes the bikes as needed. It also picks up bikes that are in need of repair.

    In case a station should be completely empty, the screen on the terminal will show the nearest stations with available bikes. You can also get this information from the Velo-Antwerpen website or from their app on your smartphone. If a station is full, you are given 15 minutes extra to go to another station where parking slots are available.

    This is all very similar to the workings of other bike sharing systems such as Vélib’ in Paris or Vélo'v in Lyon.

    In my photo, the bike truck is picking up bikes from the station 018 Meirbrug.

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    • Cycling

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    Cycling in Antwerp

    by Nemorino Written Jan 27, 2013

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    The modal share of bicycle use in Antwerp is listed as “about 16%, which is very respectable”, according to the website copenhaganize.com.

    I agree that this is a respectable percentage if you compare cities worldwide, but I would say that Antwerp still has a ways to go before it catches up with the level of bicycle use in nearby cities such as Ghent, Belgium or Maastricht, the Netherlands.

    Fortunately Antwerp has been rapidly upgrading its bicycle infrastructure in recent years. Also Antwerp now has three different bike rental systems, the red, yellow and blue bikes (see my separate tips on these), which serve different purposes for different groups of people.

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    RENT A BIKE

    by pieter_jan_v Updated Dec 17, 2012

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    Rent a Bike - Antwerp
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    The Antwerp Rent-a-Bike is located at the Lijnwaadmarkt 6 - 2000 Antwerp at the East side of the big Cathedral.

    To rent a bicycle you need a valid ID-card and a depostit of € 25.

    Tarifs for a 3-gear bicycle:

    3 Hours € 9,00
    1 Day (24 hours) € 12,75
    2 Days € 9,75/ Day
    3 Days € 9,00/ Day
    4 Days € 8,25/ Day
    5 Days € 7,50 / Day
    6 Days € 6,75/ Day
    7 Days and more € 6,40/ Day

    Business hours: All week 9AM - 6PM.

    2012 Update: New at Antwerp are the VELO-ANTWERPEN bicycle rental FIETS PUNT locations with a self-service system.

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    Rent a Bike

    by mickeyboy07 Written Sep 22, 2012

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    Bicycle point

    If there was only one city in the World,suitable for cycling,then it is Antwerp.Not built for the car and too big to walk.There are bicycle pay and ride drop off points all over the city.The most popular one is at the Central Station.Simply pop your money in the machine unlock the bike and off you go.You can then find another drop off point and secure the bike there.You can get a day pass for these bikes at the station,the first 15 minutes are free then the price gradually increases.There are over 80 points in the city to drop off or pick up at.

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