The effort was important but not sufficient. By offering 1,800 electric bikes for rental each year, Rain Metropole has made a voluntary gesture. But it could not meet the huge demand of the population. Faced with waiting lists for several months, the community ramped up its efforts by offering 2,000 VAE each year. Everything was going well until the arrival of Covid-19 and the shutdown of bike production, along with the explosion in global demand. We are not immune to supply difficulties. France depends on the parts produced in Asia and we need to organize ourselves,” Mathieu Thiurier acknowledges.
As a strong promoter of the social and solidarity economy, Rennes Métropole Vice President in charge of mobility has commissioned his services to develop a repair shop for electric bikes. The goal is simple: to extend the life of bikes for long-term rental that subscribers don’t want to buy. “We’ve realized that sometimes we’ve had bikes come back after they’ve stumbled quite a bit and that it didn’t take much to get them back to new condition,” explains Aurélien Gautier, Keolis Bicycle Project Leader.
Renew 200 bikes a year
So the city and public transport operator launched “Back Market” for VAEs. To do this, they chose to join Talendi, a reintegration company known as Bretagne Ateliers. Rather than majoring in automotive equipment, Talende trained four people to disassemble bikes. “Bikes are washed and completely disassembled. Oftentimes, it takes us to fix the wheels most of the time”, confirms Mickaël, manager of this small service. The chain, sheathing and cables are changed regularly and donated to La Petite Rennes’ self-repair shop. As for the batteries, they are tested on a test bench and replaced if necessary. “The next step will be to renew it as well,” admits Mathieu Thiorrier.
The city’s goal is to refurbish 200 bikes a year in these workshops. Thus the equipment can be offered for long-term rental in the so-called “refurbished” model which is offered for 145 euros per year (for Star subscribers) instead of 155 euros for the new version. Previously, bicycles were offered to companies or offered for daily rental. Thanks to this regeneration system, the city has a better chance of meeting the very strong demand for long-term rentals. And the social enterprise Talendi is allowed to diversify, which suffers from the regular shutdown of the neighboring PSA plant. “We are currently working on reuse. But why not start assembling the bikes tomorrow,” warns Daniel LaFranche, site manager.