During this corona crisis many people have (re)discovered the bike. Cycling unfortunately sometimes also includes bike breakdown: a puncture or chain break can always happen. This does not always have to mean the end of your bike ride, because more and more cyclists are calling on the bike assistance of a mobility organization. How does this bike assistance work exactly? Danny Smagghe of Touring and Koen Snoeys of VAB explain it.
Both Touring and VAB have years of experience and expertise in solving car breakdown problems. Since 2013, they both also offer bike assistance from about 40 euros a year.
Koen Snoeys, B2B manager of VAB explains: "Our bike assistance is based on the same model as the breakdown service for cars. We make sure that we can restore our customers' mobility. We always do our utmost to repair the bike on site with our team of specially trained bike repairers. People who have a subscription can call us 24 hours a day".
Touring spokesman Danny Smagghe sounds more or less the same: 'Our breakdown helper is on site within 40 minutes and if a repair is impossible on site, he will take the unlucky cyclist with his bike or moped to the bike mechanic of his choice, home or to the place of destination. All two-wheelers, mopeds and electric bikes are taken into consideration, regardless of age".
The most common problems reported are flat tyres, problems with the chain and broken brake cables. Problems with the e-bike (such as on the battery) can also be repaired.
Who concludes such a bike assistance contract?
Koen Snoeys: "Membership for private individuals is linked to a person, regardless of which bike they ride. So, they can call on us as well as on their mountain bike, city bike or electric bike. But our bike assistance is not only for private individuals but is increasingly linked to lease contracts for companies. There, each contract is linked to one bike. In total there are about 170,000 people who make use of our bike assistance, there are more and more contracts that are linked to companies".
Danny Smagghe: "Our assistance services are provided to everyone, on any two-wheeler. We do this for both private individuals and companies. Touring has been offering a total package called Move-On for several years now. Road users are insured with any vehicle they use. It is impossible to say how many bikes we actually cover because this is included in the total package of Move-On since a few years. At the moment we are talking about approximately 40,000 contracts for that service, but not all of them have a bike".
Is there an evolution in the people using this bike assistance?
Koen Snoeys: "Initially it was mainly active senior citizens on electric bikes who used bikes assistance. Now we are reaching a much more diverse audience with a large proportion of commuters."
At Touring, we have been recording an increasing number of interventions over the last few months due to the lockdown. "In April of last year, there were 44% more interventions for cyclists and in May 34% more compared to the same period in 2019. This not only shows that more bikes are being sold and insured, but also that their use is on the rise," says Smagghe.
What place does the bike occupy in your organization's mobility offer?
"VAB wants to be part of the solution in terms of mobility, the car is not always the solution", according to Koen Snoeys. "Depending on your journey, you choose the appropriate means of transport. We are in favour of multimodal traffic. In addition, VAB, as a mobility organization, is in favour of smarter mobility and we try to take every opportunity to make cycling an integral part of our communication and campaigns. For us, bike assistance is certainly not just window dressing. Cycling is mentioned in almost half of our campaigns and communication", concludes Koen Snoeys.
Danny Smagghe, spokesman for Touring, says: "We are a mobility organization and not a motoring club. We try to set an example by being the first on the market to provide breakdown assistance in towns and cities on an electric bike. Bike use is increasing and we are acting accordingly."