From 1 November Tilburg has a national premiere: the city is the first municipality in the Netherlands to launch the e-step. This electric means of transport is currently conquering several European cities. They provide Lisbon and Paris, among other places, with a fast, sustainable and affordable way to travel through the city. The arrival of the e-step is a collaboration between hospitality entrepreneur Jaap van Ham (a.o. Doloris), Citymarketing Tilburg and Citysteps B.V., rental company of e-steps. The launch starts with a pilot that runs until 21 March and consists of 20 steps with removable battery.
Jaap van Ham explains: "Tilburg is a leader in many things. As an entrepreneur, I naturally want to maintain that lead. When I first saw the e-steps, I just had to get them to Tilburg. Such a first fits in perfectly with the experimental character of the city." Van Ham drew up the basic plan himself, after which he joined forces with Teun Verschuren, co-owner and founder of Citysteps. "Teun is young, ambitious and was able to accelerate immediately. Together with City Marketing, we then started to make the plan concrete." City marketer Ben Smit: "In Tilburg we are always looking for innovative ways to make our city more liveable, more attractive, more sustainable and more accessible. For example, the municipality intends to reduce the pressure of traffic on the city ring. In time, pedestrians and cyclists must be given priority over cars. In addition, the mobility wishes of residents, students and tourists are changing. In addition, the mobility wishes of residents, students and tourists will change. They want to be able to move around the city in a more pleasant, accessible and green way. Think of residents of the Reeshof who want to be even smarter connected to the city centre or tourists who want to explore the city. Together with Jaap van Ham and Citysteps, we want to accelerate this decisively and on our own initiative. We believe that the e-step can meet these needs."
SAFE, SECURE AND COMFORTABLE
Verschuren: "The copies you see in a number of large European cities are not allowed in the Netherlands for the time being. Because we didn't want to wait for the green light, we started looking for a good alternative. The scooter we are about to launch in Tilburg is legally allowed, can be insured and is also more comfortable than its smaller brother. In terms of rideability it looks like a bicycle and you have to be at least sixteen years old to be allowed to ride it." Van Ham adds to that: "The scooter goes up to 20 km/h and is therefore perfectly suited to the traffic flow on Tilburg's bike paths.
ROLL OUT MULTIPLE E-STEPS IN CASE OF SUCCESS
The initiators are proud that Tilburg has the scoop. Verschuren: "Various Dutch cities are currently showing interest in our product. Here in Tilburg, however, the lines are short, so we were able to get it up and running quickly and efficiently. The pilot fits in with our company philosophy: we do not operate independently, but together with local partners. They know the city and its infrastructure." Van Ham sees a permanent place for the e-steps in Tilburg's streetscape in the future: "We want to roll it out more widely in the long term. Think of 100 or 200 e-steps spread across the city." Verschuren continues: "This involves several collection and return points at hotels, educational institutions and tourist attractions in the vicinity of Tilburg, among other places. So they do not just take to the streets - just like in Paris, for example - but they do have to be collected and handed in at the same time. Our approach is to combat vandalism." "We do indeed have the ambition to increase the number of steps in the future," agrees Smit. "We are in discussion with various stakeholders in the city who also want to offer them. There is sufficient support."
TEST PHASE WITH TOURIST PACKAGE
Tilburg's broader mobility issue will only be addressed in the next phase of the roll-out. It will start with a pilot in the form of a specially created package aimed at day-trippers from inside and outside the city. A step-route along a number of touristic highlights of the city, which starts and ends at the rooftop bar and art maze Doloris. Smit: "The 20 electric bicycles are stationed at the entrance of Doloris and can be picked up daily from 10:00 am if a booking has been made in advance on tickettotilburg.com. From here the route goes via the cycle path along the station to the railway park. Then over the university grounds to the Oude Warande where coffee and cakes are ready at Grotto. After this the route goes in the direction of Piushaven where there will be lunch at Villa Pastorie. The way back goes through the centre and the Dwaalgebied to Doloris where the scooters have to be handed in at 15:00 at the latest. After a drink in the rooftop bar the e-step arrangement is over. The complete package will cost €49.50."
STARTING SHOT PILOT ON 1 NOVEMBER
On Friday 1 November, the first e-step package will be driven by the initiators and stakeholders from the city. They will leave at 11:00 am to drive part of the route. In this way they give the starting shot for the pilot. There are four e-steps available for journalists who want to participate on this first trip. If you are interested, please contact Ben Smit. Van Ham concludes: "With this Tilburg initiative we show the whole of the Netherlands the possibilities of a new kind of partial step concept. Sustainable, safe and enjoyable from A to B, that's what we aim for. Whatever the purpose of use."
The e-step packages can be booked from Friday 1 November via tickettotilburg.com.