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Friday, 2 November 2012

Bikes in Our Everyday Lives


I never was a car person.  Buying a car was an idea somewhere on the edge of my mind, something I might do one day.  But after many years I now ask myself, “Do I really need one?”

Three months ago I discovered ‘Villo’, the city biking scheme in Brussels.  I knew how to ride a bike but I was always nervous to use one in my everyday life.

‘Villo’ gave me the opportunity to get exercise by biking.  In the beginning, it was very tough.  Coming from downtown to Ixelles where our office is is not easy because it is very hilly.  I was very slow in the beginning.  I had no confidence and a lot of small accidents.

But three months on, a lot has changed.  I am more stable now, I cycle faster and I am more confident.  I don’t want to walk or take public transport anymore.  Wherever I go, I use ‘Villo’ and find it so easy.  I just grab one from the bike stand outside my place and leave it at the bike stand close to my office.

When I cannot find a bike at the bike stand near my office, I use a very helpful App (city bikes) which shows me the number of bikes available at the next stands.

Sometimes the bike stands are full and I have to cycle round to find an empty dock to leave my bike, but I am quite sure that the ‘Villo’ team is working on it.  They usually drive bikes from one stand to another but as there are 360 ‘Villo’ stands in the whole city, it can’t be that easy to handle.

I don’t have to worry about the bike, or to lock it, or even to repair it.  And I have seen a lot of changes in myself.  I feel more confident, energetic and dynamic lately and I am quite sure that I owe it to my new habit of biking.

That’s not all!  My company told me the other day that it would pay me a certain amount for the kilometers I do everyday commuting by bike to work.   Isn’t that amazing?

Brussels is a small and congested city.  It is faster to go from one side of the city to the other by bike than by car.

Using the bike in my everyday life, I save money, I earn money and I contribute to a more sustainable society.

Blog by Aris Koutentakis


  1. There is an interesting balance of tidal commuting use of a city bike scheme, and the circulation that the 30 minute tariff is designed around. I believe Montpelier has 3 tariffs for the same bikes, so that workers can take a bike all day, keep it at work and then take it back to there they got it. This reduces the need to continually fill and empty docking points at each end of a route, and would permit the use of a system that has run in Paris (RATP Roue Libre) for 20 years.

    There are a few other options to suit individual needs with the same bikes, and a long way still to go with this.


  2. I'm jealous.Bring this to Greece!

  3. Why are you driving a bike designed for women? Are all the Vilo bikes of the same frame?
    I've tried this kind of bikes in other cities and I do find them completely uncomfortable. They cushion no vibrations and the seat is usually wide and hard. Sooner or later (usually later, if the rider has had no skeletal conditions) problems come up regarding knee and/or lower back aches or even perineum issues.
    I suggest one saved money for some time and buy a decent bike. Or at least that's what I did and I haven't regret it at all

  4. Thanks for all the comments. Some people certainly find it easier to have no responsibility for maintaining the bike and the drop off system does seem to work well most of the time. But apparently they are heavy (for an even better work-out?!) and pretty basic. I guess that's what makes them easier to maintain. And yes, they are all the same shape of frame.

    Kat - imagine if this scheme was in all major cities. That's the start of an energy revolution right there. Not just saving energy but people feeling more energy!

    Thanks for following us and do keep commenting!

  5. Thumbs up! There is no drawback to using a bike: you get to your destination faster while working out and keeping the planet healthy! Way to go, Aris!!