Системот за изнајмување велосипеди „BicikeLJ“ во Љубљана. Фото: Б.Блажевски

In a situation when we see a new record of registered vehicles on the streets of Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, and there is a continuous decrease of the number of passengers using the public transportation, the bicycle rental system which was implemented by the Public enterprise (PE) City Parking, now isn’t functioning – for the 4th year in a row.

With the now defunct “Skopje Bike Rental” project, at some of the parking lots in the capital, people could rent a bicycle with just an ID card and payment in cash. Still. this system throughout the years hasn’t turned into a serious transportation alternative that could be implemented within the public transportation system.

In the last three years of this project, i.e. in the period between 2015 and 2017, the income from bicycles renting through PE City Parking were between MKD9 000 (circa €150) and MKD20 000 (€325) annually, which shows that the interest among the citizens was far to low.

During her election campaign, the new mayor of Skopje Danela Arsovska promised that she will reintroduce a bicycle rental system in the capital of North Macedonia. Unlike the now defunct system, it should have had a mobile app for self-service, and the system proposed by Arsovska also envisioned renting electric scooters. This promise for the development of bicycle transportation in Skopje was announced on the 6th of October, on the mayor’s Facebook page, just a few days before the local elections took place.

Meta.mk sent several questions to the City Hall of Skopje about whether it plans to fulfill the given promise for the introduction of an automatized system for bicycle and scooter rental, but also whether the city’s budget for 2022 plans assets for the implementation of such a project. We also asked when would the building of the rental system start, the assets it would take to be built and when can the citizens start using it.

“The bicycle infrastructure and encouraging people to use bicycles are one of the biggest priorities for the Skopje City Hall in the next 4 years. The 4-year program plans the promotion of the bicycle rental system with the goal to implement the “Skopje Velo City” project,” stated the reply from the City of Skopje.

When it comes to cycling, the City of Skopje has planned MKD15 million for subsidies in 2022 for the purchase of bicycles, scooters, and electric vehicles on two wheels by the citizens. Still, in the received replies from the city authorities, it wasn’t stated whether the capital has planned assets for the implementation of the bicycle rental system during this year. Meta.mk didn’t manage to see in detail the Skopje’s Budget for 2022 since it wasn’t published on its official web site even though, even though the law stipulates it.

On the other hand, the previous city authorities canceled the “Skopje Bike Rental” project that was managed by PE City Parking. The explanation was that there is little interest and the complicated non-authorized procedure for bicycle rental. At the same time, the city authorities have decided that the future automatized system for bicycle rental to be transferred to JSP Skopje which would include the bicycle rental in the public transportation system.

For a longer period, Meta.mk has been informing that Skopje is one of the rare capitals in Europe that has no public system for bicycle and scooter rental. For eg., in Ljubljana, the system for bicycle rental “BicikeLJ“ is functioning since 2011 and to this day it has 60 stations and 600 public bicycles for rental. The first hour of rental of these bicycles throughout Ljubljana is free.