BA Ecobici - the free bicycle sharing system from the City of Buenos Aires

  • EcoBici is a Bicycle-sharing system in Buenos Aires, Argentina which began operating in 2010. The service is free of charge to both residents of the city and tourists, and is available 24 hours a day.


    You have to register and then you manage everything from the associated app or with Tarjeta Vos. Register here: http://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/…/sistema-ecobici/turistas. (also in English).

    It also entitles you to some discounts.


    I have been using the system for two months and I noticed the following:

    • The map with the available bicycles is not always up to date. Sometimes it will show there is no bike available when there are actually several.
    • The post at each station are fed by said map and also do not reflect the actual situation. If you access the Ecobici App you are able to take one of the available bikes even if the local post says there is no bike available.
    • You can ride the bike for 1 hour only, failure to do so will penalize you and multiple infractions will result on a ban from the system.
    • On special occasions the time allowance is increased to 2 hours, for example for event taking place at night (like Noche de los Templos)

    Rumors has it that the government would like to privatize this service, although maintaining it free. I would love if it was possible to close the basket with a hook. I hate riding with my bag on me, but putting it in the front basket seems to call attention.

    ecobici_3.jpeg?itok=3oA3VXmS  atajo_1_-programa_ecobici_0.jpg

  • Couple of points:


    There are 2 maps, one on the website and the other within the app.

    Regarding the online map, Serafina is correct - that map is not always up to date.

    The map available from the ecobici app, on the other hand - I have always seen up to the second.

    As well, regarding the info at the post itself - I have never seen what Serafina says, that it says a bike is unavailable but that you can get one using the app.


    Regarding taking the service private - sounds like a terrible idea. The customer is the government, and what incentive will the private contractor have to not cut corners?

    The only leverage the city govt. would have is to take their business elsewhere, and that is easily solved using proprietary systems and whatnot, that will make switching away expensive.

    Not to mention the potential corruption.

    This sounds like a project best left in city hands.

    I do airline tickets, car rental, hotels, cruises, insurance, and all-inclusive packages.

    If you want great service and low prices, look no further.
    I also sell local SIM cards for several countries.
    ben@kanfeinesharim.com

  • ben, I remember one occurrence where I was wandering, cellphone in hand, looking for the nearest bike station and the app map said the nearest one had no bikes available but I saw 3-4 bikes while walking past it. So I got there and the post displays 'no bike available'. I open the app, insert the station number and I can see the bikes there: 2 are unavailable because in need of maintenance, but the other two I can take. So I take one and that's it. Give it a try.

    I agree that some things are better be left in public hands. On another account, the city of Milan tried to offer a similar service but the bikes were stolen, vandalized or thrown in the Naviglio channel, on roofs, taken to private balconies, etc.


    Also a friend from a smaller township told me they tried this service in her town but had to call it off because bikes were stolen and vandalized all the time. It surprises me that in such a big city like Buenos Aires we can have this service for free. Kudos to both the city and its population.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  • I like a lot how these things were done. To wit:


    1) Fairly strong security.

    • A good system of physical security (the frame itself "plugs" into the station);
    • everything covered by cameras;
    • registration that requires your "actual" address (they don't care about DNI, they want to see an existing bill linking you to that address);
    • use of bikes cheap enough (and marked enough) as to be unattractive as a target of theft.

    2) Continued investment in maintaining the bike fleet, adding stations etc.


    The reality is that most porteños - outside a class of professional criminals - are not people who are going to vandalize just for the heck of it. Even the criminals won't do that, actually - something has to be in it for them. And the city took care in designing this program so as to make this very interesting to good people, and utterly uninteresting to others.


    The bikes are crap, in a good way. If you are looking to steal a bike, you have to be an idiot to steal this one. It's instantly recognizable, utterly not worth any kind of fixing up. No resale value to dream of, for all these reason. It's just a basic bike that gets you from A to B - exactly the point.

    I do airline tickets, car rental, hotels, cruises, insurance, and all-inclusive packages.

    If you want great service and low prices, look no further.
    I also sell local SIM cards for several countries.
    ben@kanfeinesharim.com

  • The reality is that most porteños - outside a class of professional criminals - are not people who are going to vandalize just for the heck of it.


    The bikes are crap, in a good way. If you are looking to steal a bike, you have to be an idiot to steal this one. It's instantly recognizable, utterly not worth any kind of fixing up. No resale value to dream of, for all these reason. It's just a basic bike that gets you from A to B - exactly the point.

    Haven't used this service yet, so this is an interesting informational thread. If anyone had asked me if this was a good idea, I would have said "absolutely not!" because of porteños' utter disregard for others' property. Added to Ben's first point, above, should be "nor will they ever take any action to protect or preserve anyone else's property."


    The second point, though, suggests genius at work. Vandalism requires effort, so why bother? But, if there's any possibility of something in this for me, well, to hell with the common good. But if the bikes can't be sold, or even used openly, then no one will bother stealing them. Brilliant!

  • I do not think that quality bikes are the reason behind vandalism. Maybe behind theft, but with vandalism nor the author nor the society have a gain from it.

    My point in regard to vandalism is that it requires effort, therefore will not happen as much in BsAs as in other places (surprisingly it seems, Italy!).


    Sure, vandals don't care a whole lot what it is they ruin, as long as it pisses someone off.

  • Do you see that much "pure" vandalism around here? I for one don't.


    There's a strong police presence on the streets - strong enough to give me concern in the (very few) days I was driving with an expired license! Does that have something to do with it?


    Turns out most people, even the ones who will do the wrong thing, will not do it just for nothing.

    I do airline tickets, car rental, hotels, cruises, insurance, and all-inclusive packages.

    If you want great service and low prices, look no further.
    I also sell local SIM cards for several countries.
    ben@kanfeinesharim.com

  • serafina , can you catch me up on this program? I see that the bikes are now a different color and the rack in our plaza looks more permanent. Does this mean the program has been privatized?


    Also, what is the deal with the green vs yellow scooters? And how hard would it be for thieves to toss them into a car? They seem to be haphazardly parked along the sidewalks in most blocks around here.

  • Hi Rice,


    yes, the service has been privatized to a Brazilian company. It is still free for use but they changed the bikes and the color.


    The scooters are paid services from different providers. The City Government as nothing to do with it. There are at least 4 brands (different colors) and it is a pay per minute.

    I think you need to download an app, register your details and your credit card, scan a QR code on the scooter and ride.

  • Thanks for satisfying our curiosity, serafina . No worries that either of us is likely to hop on a scooter! But they look as if anyone with a van could come along and just sweep up a truck full, as there are no apparent locks.


    We see lots of bikes, and still a few skateboards, but almost no scooters. I wonder who their market is.

  • Well, they are picked up at night by a truck, taken to a facility to be charged overnight, and deployed back in the morning. I believe they have GPS and remote locking/unlocking function.

    For example, the ones by Rappi only work from 7AM to 10PM (if I remember correctly - it should be during daylight) and get disabled in case of rain. They should be rode using a helmet, but nobody actually checks.


    In the US, you can get paid to charge them in your own home. But in Buenos Aires there is no such option. I am not sure about the antitheft system beyond this.


    Personally, I have never ridden one and I don't think I'll ever will, as I have balance issues.

    But I can't help think that those people riding a scooters with headphones on, in the middle of Avenida Scalabrini Ortiz are playing Russian roulette.

    One should really have very little consideration of their life to ride so carelessly.


    I think the issue with mopeds here is that they are easy to steal. There are bikes, but most bikes are crappy delivery bikes, as it would be risky to pay a nice bike overnight on the sidewalk here. I guess Splinter has more to tell about the subject than me.

  • Autoblog.com lists BsAs as one of the cities that Lime will be pulling its scooters from.

    “Lime is pulling out of 12 cities, four of them in the United States: Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego, and San Antonio. Lime also plans to leave Linz, Austria; Bogotá, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Montevideo, Uruguay; Lima, Peru; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and São Paulo, Brazil.

    I’m glad to read this.