Smart Bike Share in Tartu, Estonia

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Author: Karl Saidla

Since December 2021, I have been living with my family in Tartu, Estonia where I am carrying out a unique research project on bike share. More specifically, the research will explore the public policies behind the planning, design, and implementation of the bike share systems of both Tartu (Smart Bike) and Helsinki, Finland (City Bikes).

Looking smart this winter in the Karlova neighbourhood

As the two cities both have very successful bike share systems but very different population sizes (Tartu 95, 000 and Helsinki 657,00), an explicit goal of the project is to explore whether population has important implications for bike share policy and performance. More generally, I want to find out what policies in both cities help to explain bike share success.

This project is funded via a postdoctoral research grant of the Estonian Research Council and I am being very warmly hosted by the very impressive Mobility Lab of the University of Tartu’s Geography (Human Geography Chair) Department.

I will do my best to report on both my research and more casual observations related to active and sustainable mobility while I am here. This time, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Tartu’s bike share system:


Tartu Smart Bike


Tartu rattaringlus

Date of launch

June, 2019

Brand of bikes

Bewegen Technologies (of Canada)

Number of bikes


Types of bikes

Electric-assist: 500

Standard: 250

Dock or Dockless?

Dock-based system, but the city creates virtual docks on an as-needed basis. For example, the last time Metallica was here. Bike share use in connection with the concert was even the subject of a data research project.

Number of stations


Seasonal availability

All year! Only standard bikes during the winter, but these get studded tires for the winter season:

If there is another bike share system in this world that uses winter tires, I would like to hear about it!

Daily availability

Between 1 am and 5 am, bikes can not be removed from stations. This protects drunken hooligans from themselves, and the bikes from the hooligans.


Covers all of the City of Tartu and connects to some neighbouring municipalities. Docking stations are planned to be no more than 500 m from all major areas of residence and amenities. Check out the station map here.

Statistical highlights

Total rides since June, 2019: 2.5 million

Total distance travelled since June, 2019: 6.6 million km

Ownership and operation

Public ownership and operation. The system is run by Tartu Linnatransport (the city’s public transport authority) and is considered part of the public transport system.

Fees and membership options

If you already have a bus pass: FREE

If you are already entitled to use public transit for free (e.g., seniors): FREE

1 month: 30 EUR

1 week: 10 EUR

1 day: 5 EUR

1 ride: 2 EUR

Access options

Mobile phone app or bus card

Excerpt from Karl’s blog Silver Bullet Mobility

The Mobility Lab of the University of Tartu is an interdisciplinary research group that studies human mobility and its associations with society and the environment using mobile (big) data.

Categorized as Research