In the context of its mobility offer designed for improving public movement on FIFA Women’s World Cup match days, Transvilles has introduced the inhabitants of Valenciennes to self-service bicycles. An analysis of this successful initiative together with Arnaud Meunier, CTVH Marketing Director.

An exceptional context 
From June 7th to July 7th, 2019, Valenciennes will be in a state of effervescence! And for good reason! It is the smallest town welcoming the FIFA Women’s World Cup and will be hosting six matches in the competition. Transvilles has modified its transport offer to make sure that the event is a real success: by increasing the number of trams on match-days, by offering free travel for ticket holders and free parking in park and ride stations… and by offering self-service bicycles for hire. “The town has launched a call for tenders for making self-service bicycles available during the World Cup” confirms Arnaud Meunier. “The idea was to create something special for this world-wide event and, at the same time, test an environment-friendly solution for making it permanently available in Valenciennes. We took up the challenge and have been successful” 

Flexibility and ease of use: the winning combination 
In order to find the right partner, Transvilles contacted the innovation department at head offices, which guided it towards “Donkey Republic” a Danish start-up. With its semi-floating flexible solution and top-quality bikes, it was the only company to have competed successfully with Velib in Paris. Donkey Republic’s key asset lies in the presence of geolocated “virtual” stations in the application where users can pick up and return their bicycle. An ideal positioning between cycle rental stations with fixed stations attached to terminals and so-called “floating” cycle rental services, that do not have any stations at all. Donkey Republic’s other major asset is its intelligent padlock system which can only be locked or unlocked with the application during rental time. “We bought 70 bicycles from Donkey Republic, which handles customer relations via its application, whilst we pilot the project on site”, confirms Arnaud Meunier. “We made 50 cycles available to the public and reserved 20 for maintenance. Our strength lies in knowing how to capitalize on our existing tools for deploying this solution. We did not need to create any stations, but can use existing high-capacity cycle parks that we identify by means of signposts”.  So, it’s an attractive solution in budgetary terms without any expensive infrastructure and is also modular as new virtual stations can be created very easily. 

Towards a long-lasting solution
First feedback has been very positive with strong public support. As proof, in Valenciennes each bike is rented between three and four times a day compared with a national average of one and a half times a day. A success that Arnaud Meunier attributes to four factors: launching the project at the time of the World Cup which created a “buzz” on this new solution; the summer period, conducive to cycling; optimal visibility with self-services bicycles deployed solely in the town-centre; and great enthusiasm from local inhabitants, delighted to see this highly publicized offer arrive in Valenciennes at long-last.  “The solution should become permanent”, concludes Arnaud Meunier. “In my opinion, the Donkey Republic offer is the most suitable for small towns such as Valenciennes. The town council has understood that we could support and accompany it on this “soft mobility” solution. Offering complementary solutions for taking over from trams after 9:00 pm and facilitating transport to less well-served areas is one of our top priorities. To embark on this type of adventure, you must really believe in it, prepare everything well beforehand, choose the right timing and create a buzz!”