The story of a PubliBike station

There are already over 300 stations throughout Switzerland where you can borrow a bike or e-bike. But how long does it take for a station to actually be ready and why are there places in a network without a station? Thomas Hug, site manager at PubliBike, works closely with the other divisions to clarify all these questions.


A good location - actively used and with a lot of potential - is one of the key factors whether a bike sharing network is successful or not. Another key to success is the density of a network: the denser the network, the greater the chance of success. If stations are located close to many popular locations, our customers have a convenient way of moving around without gaps. Ideally, a station should be located every 200 to 300 meters. PubliBike's densest and largest networks are in Zurich with the "Züri Velo" network, and in Berne with the "Velo Bern" network.

Thomas must therefore identify such potential locations in consultation with the city. How will they be found? Simple indicators are locations that are already well-placed or popular, such as public transport stops, tourist attractions or places where many people work and/or live. A good example in the "Velo Bern" network would be the Rosengarten, which is visited by lots of tourists and locals. In the "Züri Velo" network it would be Hardbrücke, as many people live and work here. Ideally, a lot of people would live near a potential PubliBike station, and they would ride their bikes away from the station, and other people would work there and ride their bikes to the station.


What steps are taken before putting a location into operation?

  • Analyse the potential using a geo-information system
    Criterion: number of inhabitants and jobs within a radius of 300 metres
  • Mark the potential locations on a map.
  • Inspect and check the marked locations on site together with the people in charge from the city.
    Criterion: where is there room for a station and does the location make sense?
  • Submit the building permit application for the stations to the city or municipality.
  • The city issues a permit, or if necessary, processes objections to the construction.
  • Mark the ground for the future station
  • Print the signage for the future totem
    Info: Location name, how it works and sponsors of the network
  • "Construct"  the new PubliBike station with the totem
  • Enter the station in the system so that it also appears on the PubliBike website and app.
  • Add bikes and e-bikes to the new station
  • Collect experience on how the new bike sharing network works



Mobile from start to finish


Since 2009, PubliBike has been offering a number of bike-sharing networks throughout Switzerland and is continuously expanding the programme.