Starting from 1st of June 2015 Timisoara has the first bike-sharing system in Romania: Velo TM. 25 stations with 300 bikes with self-service can be used by locals and tourists to move around Timisoara between stations for free.
In order to use the bikes, these steps must be followed:
1. Create an account on Velo TM website and request a card.
2. Go to RATT main office and pick it up or activate the one you already have for public transportation.
3. Check your email for the PIN you received from them.
4. Check the map on the website for the stations and available bikes. Use the PIN to unlock a bike and have fun riding it.
5. Bring it back to a station in less than 1 hour, otherwise… well, you’re in trouble. The account will be blocked and you might pay a fine.
Sounds simple as 1,2,3,4,5? Well here are the tricky parts, as I experienced them today on my first ride.
1. Except for the requirements for the password, there’s nothing fishy about this step. I strongly recommend doing this before going to pick up the card. You’ll see later why…
2. Now here comes the fun part… For this step you definitely need a lot of patience… First I had to fill in a declaration about the usage of the bikes. Then I took my place at the end of a looong queue, with only one counter open. There were three ladies struggling with one computer to activate the cards. It seemed that already having an account made things a little more simple for them since they didn’t have to fill in the data manually. Anyhow, it took more than 1 and a half hour to finally have an active card. Maybe I was just a bit unlucky today…
3. You won’t get the active card until you receive the PIN on the email. You can change it later from your account on Velo TM site.
4. Luckily there was a young man there showing me how to use the system when I tried to take my first bike, otherwise I would have quit trying. The touch interface is very slow and keeps blocking.
5. I finally managed to get the bike and after the first 50 meters the bicycle chain fell off… So here’s another tip: don’t change the gears too quickly. After fixing it things went smoothly: around 90% of my route was on bike lanes and I managed to get it back in time to another station. The bikes are kind of small for my size, but pretty comfortable though.
All in all, Velo TM is a good initiative. I might start using it daily.