The cheapest, easiest way to see the city.
The Ljubljana city bike scheme will be a revelation for any UK traveller. Known as BicikeLJ, any visitor will soon realise that the bike stations are situated every few hundred metres and that the bikes themselves are everywhere. At first it can seem slightly daunting to use, but after you quickly sign up for an account and download the excellent app, you will wonder why every city in the world doesn’t do the same.
Spread across the small Slovene capital’s districts are 810 bikes and 81 stations with the main central area ones holding around 20 each. By signing up online at the operator’s website and paying a token fee of just one Euro per week, every single trip you take can be free of charge. If you keep the bike for longer than 60 minutes, you may be charged another €1 to €4 for each extra hour, but returning a bike to any rack for three minutes will reset the timer.
The app allows you to find the nearest rack and will tell you exactly how many bikes and spaces remain in it. In use, you simply walk to the bike station, choose a bike, press a button on the app and its lock is released. When returning the bike you find any open rack at any station, push the bike into it and wait for the beep. The app then pings to confirm. It’s fantastically simple.
Another reason this method of transport works so well is that Ljubljana is filled with cycle lanes that keep ever the most nervous riders safely separated from the traffic. The bikes are generally kept in great condition with comfortable seats, strong headlamps and a large basket at the front.
The only slight adjustment that UK visitors may need to make is to learn the back-pedal rear brake which is common on many European bikes. But it takes two minutes to adjust.
The one thing to watch out for however, is the popularity of the system. Nearly 20% of locals have a BicikeLJ account too and so, when travelling into or out of the city in peak times, you may find some of the bike stations empty. Similarly, when wanting to drop a bike off, some stations can occasionally be full with no open spaces left. But because the app is updated live, you can usually just redirect to another bike station requiring a couple of extra minutes walk. Once you have the hang of it and unless the weather is super wet or humid, you won’t want to travel any other way.
PS: Don’t drink and ride. Understandably, there’s not a lot of patience for this behaviour amongst the authorities.