Earlier this month we seized the chance to visit Antwerp during what was easily the gayest weekend we’ve experienced in quite a while. But discovering how gay-friendly Antwerp is was not the only revelation we had during our first visit to Belgium. It was also quite evident how bike-friendly the city was so we took that fact as an opportunity to explore the city by bike. During our stay in Antwerp, one of our hosts from the Flanders Tourism Board informed us that not only locals, but tourists could easily rent Velo bikes all around the city by quickly setting up an account online via a computer or even a smartphone.
Being huge fans of using our smartphones and their excellent travel related apps to aid us in our planning, I was determined to get this all squared away and have us on two rented bikes as quickly as possible all via my iPhone. Firstly, to do this as a traveler you clearly have to have a phone plan that will work in Belgium or via WIFI. In our case we just purchased a micro-SIM card upon arrival at the airport in Brussels that was compatible for my unlocked iPhone 4S. There’s a store outside of customs of BRU where we spent 15€ total for the SIM card with 1GB of data plus 5€ of that total was credit toward calls and texts.
The ‘How to' for Antwerp Bike Rental
Having phone service in Belgium: check. Now to sign up for the bike rental we followed these steps:
1. Download the Velo app by searching “Velo Antwerp” in the Apple app store.
Note: This is also available for Android OS but I can't speak on how well it works as I'm a blatant Apple snob.
2. In the app, click “Day and week passes”.
3. Sign up for a pass by registering with a credit card via the link (wap.velo-antwerpen.be) at the very bottom of the Velo app screen to access the WAP site (the website for mobile devices).
Note: A 150€ hold (not charge) will be placed on the card for every day/week pass up to one month.
4. Enter all necessary personal information and click submit.
5. A text message will be sent to the mobile device with a numeric user ID and password.
6. Use the Velo app to find the nearest station with available bikes.
7. Use the user ID and password on the electronic screen at the station to rent a bike and ride!
- Day pass: 3.60€
- Week pass: 8.00€
- First 30 min: Included in price of day/week pass
- Second 30 min: 0.50€
- Third 30 min: 1.00€
- Every next hour after that: 5€
- The Velo bike can be used for a maximum of 4 continuous hours.
- Velo bikes are available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Antwerp has 85 Velo stations situated about every 400 meters.
We had a great day enjoying the city’s well laid out bike paths and really appreciated how quick and easy rentals could be done via smartphone. Another great feature of the app was being able to see which bike stations had available parking and how many bikes were available at each station. It makes for a really great public transit system in addition to their trams and buses. These types of bike rentals seem to be catching on well in many cities around the globe and we hope they continue to grow because of their an added convenience for visitors and locals alike.
Have you taken advantage of biking sharing programs in your city or one you've visited? What do you think of them? Share with us in the comments below!