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June 2000


Convenient bicycle rental in Munich

Getting around town has just become much easier, more convenient and fun. The new transportation service Call-a-Bike has strategically positioned 2,000 futuristic-looking bicycles next to phone booths around town, ready to be rented. The concept is as innovative as it is simple: if you want to rent a bike, call and register at the reservations center (the toll-free number is [08005] 22 55 22). Once you have received a customer number (this process will take only about an hour), renting a bike anywhere around town is simple. Just phone Call-a-Bike, give them your customer number and the number of the bike you wish to rent and, in return, you will receive a four-digit number to open the patented lock. From this point on the meter is running. The basic rate is DM1,80 per hour, any additional minute costs 3 Pfennig, with a maximum renting time of 48 hours. With the individual lock combination you can always leave your bike, come back later and continue your ride. When you no longer need the bike, you call in, the code gets changed and the fee deducted from your account. The fact that Call-a-Bike handles problems such as flat tires or broken chains guarantees all the fun of riding a bike without the usual hassles. The striking, silver-and-orange design of these extra robust, luxury bikes is intended to deter potential thieves. “Stealing Call-a-Bikes is like stealing fire trucks,” says Christian Hogl, one of the two founders of Call-a-Bike. In a bicycle-friendly city like Munich, where 15 percent of all road users are bicyclists, an innovative idea like this is bound to catch on. So far, the only problem is not finding a bike, but getting through to the reservations center, whose lines seem to be constantly busy.

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