EPFL Cargobikes

EPFL Cargobike Bikesharing © EPFL Adrien Buttier

EPFL students and staff members can rent the first shared electric cargobikes in Switzerland, for up to 12 hours and for free. These cargobikes offer a real alternative to cars to transport equipment on the campus and in its surrounding area.

This pilot project is the result of a partnership between EPFL Sustainability and Donkey Republic. The EPFL fleet has 6 e-cargobikes and 2 regular ones which are equipped with smart locks controlled through a smartphone app.

Instructions for use

Before each use, take care to unplug the cargobike and not to leave the cable lying on the ground.

At the end of each use, the bikes have to be plugged into the charging station and locked. Users will be held responsible in case of loss or damage.

The first 12 hours of use are free of charge, after which a daily charge of CHF 10 is applied.

Maximum load: 100 kg. It is strictly forbidden to transport people.

Vignette App

Install the App

Install the iOS or Android Donkey Republic app. On the “Profile” tab, create your account using your EPFL e-mail address.

Vignette Rent

Booking your cargobike

When a cargobike is available, it is displayed on the map. Click on it and follow the procedure. Rental is free for 12 hours at the most. Each additional day: CHF 10.-

Unlocking the cargobike

When you are close to the bike you rented, click on your rental, then on “Unlock”. The lock opens automatically after 5 seconds. The location service and your Bluetooth connection must be on.

Locking and unlocking

Push down the lock handle when you take a break, then click on “Unlock” in the app when you’re ready to go.

Returning the cargobike to the pickup location

Before your rental period ends, simply take your cargobike back to its pickup location and plug it into the charging station.

Ending your rental

Lock your bike and end your rental by first clicking on “Return”, then on “End Rental”. That’s it!

Map of the CargoBikes locations

No. The service is only available for the EPFL community and your EPFL e-mail address constitutes proof of that.

The self-service cargobike sharing system is a first in Switzerland. As a pilot project, it is likely to evolve depending on users’ experience and feedback.

No, you can only register via the app.

No, you can only control the smartlock using a smartphone and a Bluetooth connection. An alternative was tested previously with unsatisfactory results for both users and administrators.

When a cargobike is available, it is displayed on the map. Click on it, then on “Rent now” and follow the procedure.

If no cargobike appears on the map, it means they are all rented out or booked. You might see a cargobike at its station and not on the map: it just means someone booked it but has not used it yet.

No, the reservation function was removed by our partner until further notice. You can only reserve a bike on the actual day and for a maximum period of 12 hours. We are actively looking into solutions to make this essential feature available.

No, insurance against theft is not needed.

Your bank details act as a guarantee for us, for example in case of damage to the bike or if you go beyond the rental period.

No, because the cargobikes are shared between users: monopolizing them is therefore against our system’s fundamental principle.

You might be incorrectly located: try moving a few meters, or connecting either with wifi or the mobile network.

No, transporting people is strictly forbidden by law and the transport case is not designed for this purpose.

Try switching your wi-fi connection off and using the mobile network, or vice versa.

If this does not work, leave your cargobike at the station and lock it. Instead of ending the rental, simply cancel it and tell us why.

Yes, you can. However, beware of battery life and traffic regulations. Also make sure you are wearing the right equipment (helmet, reflective vest and/or armband, etc.).

Riding a cargobike may require a short time to adapt. Do try it without a load before you hit the road!

The transport box can bear a maximum load of 100 kg.

Under certain conditions, the automatic opening may not work: simply apply a light pressure on the lever in the upper direction.

According to the manufacturer, the range is 30 to 40 kilometers. If you use the electrical assistance moderately, the battery can last much longer. You can set the level of assistance using the “+” and “-” commands on the left handlebar.

The charge level is indicated on the center console screen.

If you want to physically check the charge level, press the tiny black button on the right side of the battery, under the LED capacity gage.

Two known issues:

  • The center console is switched off: press the “power” button on the bottom left
  • The battery is flat: check that the cable is plugged in and wait until the battery is fully charged (see “How can I check the battery charge level?”)
  • The level of assistance is set to zero: press once or several times on the button ” + “, on the control on the left of the handlebar, according to the desired level of assistance

First, check that the cable is correctly plugged in on both sides. Above the electric socket in the box, also check that the yellow/grey switch is on position “1”.

If nothing happens, please contact us without delay.