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Stockholm is a beautiful city and one that can easily be toured on foot. If you’re hoping to get around a little faster though, cycling around town will allow you more freedom. Bike lanes are common and well respected by motorists and pedestrians alike.
It’s no surprise then that Stockholm City Bikes, a bike sharing program run as a joint venture between the city of Stockholm and Clear Channel, has emerged as a popular service in Stockholm. Best of all, once you join the program, your rentals are free!
When to rent
The program offers 1,000 bikes at 80 unmanned bike stations throughout the city, many of them located in the middle of town. Bikes are available every day of the week, from 6 AM to 6 PM. Of course, touring Stockholm on a bike in the middle of the winter can be a dangerous endeavor. With this in mind, Stockholm City Bikes are only rentable from April 1st to October 31st.
The three-day card and the season pass
When renting a bike from the Stockholm City Bikes program, you have two different options. The first is the three-day rental card, which costs 125 SEK. It is valid for three days from the time you first use the card, not from the time you buy the card.
The other option is the season pass. This is valid throughout the entire season, from April through October and can be purchased at sales locations for 250 SEK, or online for 200 SEK. If you intend on biking around Stockholm for more than three days, plan ahead and buy the card online and save 50 SEK.
The most convenient sales locations include any SL Center (the public transportation company in Stockholm), Central Station, Slussen, or the Stockholm Tourist Centre. You can also buy the card online at Stockholm City Bike’s website, where, as we mentioned, you can get the season card for 200 SEK instead of 250. Unfortunately, cards cannot be purchased at the bike racks.
Getting your bike
Once you’ve purchased your card, all you have to do is find a bike stand from which to rent. At every rack, you’ll find an automatic card reader with very clear instructions. Just hold your card up against the reader, wait for it to register, and then grab your bike. You only have 30 seconds from the time your card is registered, but if you’re too slow, don’t worry, just repeat the process—albeit a little quicker this time!
Get it back on time
Rentals last three hours, at which point you are expected to return the bike to any of the city’s numerous bike stands. If three hours isn’t enough for you, you can just head to a nearby stand and re-rent the bike. The three-hour rule is strictly enforced, mostly because it is difficult to argue with the computer and the time stamp it records.
If you are late, you receive what Stockholm City Bikes refers to as a “penalty point.” Three penalty points and your card will be blocked. If you keep your bike for more than five hours, your card is automatically blocked regardless of the number of penalty points you might have already accumulated.
Stockholm City Bikes has its limitations, not being able to buy a rental card at the bike stand, for example. Regardless, the service covers almost all of Stockholm and allows tourists (and locals for that matter) a great way of getting around.