Last month, we sat down with CIE member Caroline Van Renterghem, CSR & Public Affairs Director at Smoove-Zoov and Women in Cycling Ambassador, to discuss (amongst other things) her view of the future, challenges, and inspirations in the cycling industry.
1. Can you give us a brief description of Smoove-Zoov?
We are bikeshare specialists that have around 50,000 bikes in 30 cities, with approximately 500,000 users. As we’re keen on promoting bikesharing as the most inclusive mobility tool, we’ve developed different technologies to accelerate mobility for everyone, from mechanical bikes to ebikes. Our mission is to create accessible mobility for everyone.
We recently released a new bike called Fusion, which, alongside the standard bikeshare service, allows for long-term rental service. This means the user can use the same app to rent a bike for 10 minutes or 10 months. The operator has the same bikes to operate, creating more cost-effective operations. All that is needed to switch from a short term to long term rental is that we send the user a battery, where users can also choose from additional items such as a child seat or luggage rack – something normal bike shares usually lack. We pilot-launched this service in Bordeaux, with the intention of addressing the needs of, not only city centers, but the suburb neighborhoods. Combining these two services makes them complimentary, and from our experience, most of the time a user will start with bikeshare and will eventually want to have their own bike. I find the the cyclist’s journey very interesting, and it’s an important concept to understand if we want to create more everyday cyclists.
2. What trends are you most excited about cycling by 2030?
2030 is so far away! Having a true MaaS service (Mobility as a Service), an app where you could buy all your transport tickets in one place, would be the thing I look forward to the most – this of course doesn’t exist yet, and we’re all struggling to get there. However, having a MaaS application like this would encourage bike usage so much! Being able to seamlessly switch from one mode to the other with a single ticket would make it very simple for everyone.
3. What do you see as a major challenge in the cycling industry and how can CIE play a role in overcoming that challenge?
I would say the major challenge we’re facing as an industry is the current supply chain. The cycling industry’s challenge is to be able build up our own industry in order to cope with the demand, because we’re always talking about increasing the number of cyclists but if we’re unable to multiply the number of bikes, then it won’t work.
I think CIE is in the best position because they’re talking to both the industry and the EU – and these two are how we can actually move things: the EU, because it can assure funding to the industry, and with such funding, the industry can have the will to do that. I think CIE is the right mediator between the EU and the industry to move cycling forward.
4. What/who in the cycling industry inspires you?
I met a woman at Velo-City who really inspires me! Priscillia PetitJean built a secondhand association called Les Ateliers de l’Audace (which roughly translates to Daring Workshop) where she and a team of volunteers find and repair bicycles, and then donates them to people in need or sells it for a very affordable price. With all the struggles and forces pinned against her in pursuing to provide this accessible and inclusive tool for everyone, I find that she’s a very courageous woman.
5. Describe in 5 words how cycling is saving the world.
We challenged Caroline to describe in only 5 words how cycling is saving the world, which is no easy task! Hear Caroline's response below: