Bogotá has joined a growing number of “intelligent cities” with the launch Wednesday of the first electric bike sharing venture created by the city’s electric utility CODENSA, supermarket chain Carulla and Bicycle Capital. With corporate sponsor, Scotiabank Colpatria, the bright red bikes will be available to anyone with a cell phone as the BiciCo App (available on Android and iOS) requires a simple registration and a credit card.

The 50 electric bikes will be located in six strategic Carullas across the city and once the registration process is completed, by scanning a QR code on the bike, the battery lights up and riders are free to begin moving around the city on an environmentally friendly form of transportation. The service will be operational as of 6:00 am and all bikes must be returned to a Carulla by 8:00 pm, in order for CODENSA to power them overnight. The cost of using the bike depends on one’s time necessity, beginning with $2,800 pesos for a half-hour, $25,000 pesos for a day, as well as option to pre-pay for a month ($60,000 pesos) which entitles users four 30-minute rides every day. The Carullas where the e-bikes are located are Retiro, Quinta Camacho, Calle 140, Calle 110, Carrulla FreshMarket 102 and FreshMarket Pepe Sierra.

For the corporate partners, the aim is to incorporate more e-bikes as Bogotanos begin to experience the ease of electric-assisted pedals, and which means that riding to work doesn’t entail a physical workout, change of clean clothes, even a shower. The e-bikes reach a maximum speed of 20-kilometers per hour and are as manoeuverable as a regular bike. Similar e-bike ventures are popular in New York, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Barcelona. In Toronto, renting an e-bike for the day will cost an average of US$28.00 dollars, and in London, an average of £45 pounds (US$57,00), so for the peso equivalent of US$7,00 you can ride for 14 hours along all the city’s bicycle paths – ciclorutas – and run errands without waiting for a cab or dealing with TransMilenio.

“We are very pleased to have achieved an alliance that directly benefits the people of Bogotá and promotes electric mobility,” remarked CODENSA’s Carlos Mario Restrepo. “We want to continue contributing to the transformation of Bogotá as an intelligent city and a more sustainable place for inhabitants. This pilot project is proof of the importance of a ‘sharing economy’ that is sustainable,” he said. CODENSA also envisions an electric transformation for the city as Bogotanos see that they are not just in the business of delivering energy, but clean energy solutions. “This initiative is also about forming intelligent citizens,” said Restrepo.

For Scotiabank Colpatria, the e-bike project shows how the financial sector can invest in start-ups with innovative ideas that benefit communities. “This alliance is an opportunity that allows Scotiabank Colpatria to contribute from a business perspective to the challenges of climate change and sustainable development,” said Mario Fonseca, vice-president of the consumer division of the Canadian-Colombian bank. “It’s an ambitious project committed to friendly mobility, a healthy community, and a cleaner planet.”

Guillaume Seneclauze, General Manager of Carulla, says the e-bikes are aligned with a brand that looks to promote a healthy lifestyle with food. The company recently inaugurated their second FreshMarket outlet, where clients can find more varieties of organically-grown produce and non-processed products.

The 250 Watt powered bikes are the result of a project that began two years ago when Bicycle Capital, a Bogotá-based company that promotes cycling as alternative transportion, approached CODENSA with an idea to develop a user-friendly App to encourage more people to get on two wheels in a city that has 540-kilometers of designated bike lanes. “Bogotá is the flagship city of cycling in Latin America with its ideal climate, savannah, and major traffic problems,” remarked Camilo Rueda of Bicycle Capital, stating also, that of the 800,000 trips made every day by Bogotanos, 56,000 (7%) are on bikes. “We want to be part of a transformation in Bogotá in order to encourage more citizens who don’t normally ride, to see for themselves the benefits of using these red e-bikes that are very ‘green’.”