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Local News Summary of May, 18th

  • E-Bike via smartphone is the newest mobility trend in Basel
  • EU-court upholds ban on insecticides produced by Syngenta and Bayer
  • Largest tram purchase achieved

E-Bike via smartphone is the newest mobility trend in Basel

E-bikes can now be rented in the suburbs and the city centre through a new smartphone app.
Pick-e-Bike, created by BLT (Baselland Transport Services), EBM (a local electricity provider), and BKB (Basel Cantonal Bank), aims to meet the growing mobility needs of city residents. A total of 250 «Stromer» e-bikes are available at different locations around the city centre and also in suburbs. In summer, the scheme will be extended with a fleet of 60 «Kumpan» e-scooters.

The new e-sharing offer is available via smartphone. The Pick-e-Bike app shows a user where an e-bike can be found. The user is charged a small fee for using the bike. The e-bikes cost 25 Rappen per minute while the e-scooters cost 35 Rappen. Anyone can register for the scheme free of charge by providing their ID credit card, and driving licence details.

The scheme is available in: Arlesheim, Binningen, Bottmingen, Oberwil, Reinach, Therwil, Münchenstein, and Basel. Both of these pick-e-bikes, the bike or the scooter, can be parked elsewhere and the hire can be terminated through the app. As well as parking the bikes at the place where they were hired from, there are also parking spaces available at ten tram stops in the suburbs. There are plans to extend the service to places like Riehen, depending on demand.

Cooperation between BLT, EBM, and BKB

The three founding members of the Pick-e-Bike AG scheme, BLT, EBM, and BKB, aim to create added value for money, enhance urban life, and promote environmentally friendly mobility.
The project is accompanied by a small board involving BVB, the Construction and Traffic Department of Basel-Stadt, the Construction and Environmental Department of Baselland, and the Federal Roads Office.
The investment is carried by BLT, EBM, and BKB in equal parts. The BLT is funding the project using money earned in the business sector without using the public purse.

EU-court upholds ban on insecticides produced by Syngenta and Bayer

The General Court of the European Union in Luxemburg has upheld a partial ban on three insecticides produced by Syngenta and Bayer, which have offices in Basel, and rejected a complaint by the two companies.
In 2013, the European Commission restricted the use of active substances clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and imidacloprid, known as neonicotinoides, across the EU.

The chemicals are sprayed on plants and wheat as a protection measure - but according to the Commission, the insecticides endanger bees. The General Court on Thursday ruled that the Commission had been right to restrict the use of these substances to protect bees.
The court said the EU could step in and take measures under its «precautionary principle» if scientists were uncertain about risks to human health or the environment, and did not have to wait until it was obvious that damage had been done.

Success for BASF with fipronil

The court however did annul restrictions on a different class of pesticide, fipronil, produced by the German chemical company, BASF, since the requirements were not released on the basis of an impact analysis.
In the summer of 2017, fipronil was at the centre of a scandal in EU countries as well as Switzerland when it was found that millions of chicken eggs were contaminated with the chemical.

The contaminated products did not pose an immediate risk to public health. As a precautionary measure, a still-unknown number of eggs and egg-products were removed from the market and destroyed.

Finprofil is used as a plant protection product and an insecticide in veterinary medicine. It is forbidden to give it to animals which produce food consumed by humans such as cows and chickens. In higher doses, fipronil can cause nausea, sickness, and headaches.

Largest tram purchase achieved

The BVB tram fleet has been completed with the purchase of 61 vehicles from Bombardier. Recent results of a cantonal survey in 2017 reveal that the trams are very popular among passengers. The last flexity tram was christened «Piccolo».
The first two flexity trams have circulated on the BVB network since December 2014. Last summer, the last of the 44-metre-long trams consisting seven parts was completed. Since then, 17 short Flexity trams (32 metres long, containing five parts) have been delivered. They are mostly circulating on the 15/16 line to Bruderholz.

No problems with delivery and operation

Every tram was able to join the network after going through a series of tests that lasted around two weeks. There were no major problems and delays concerning delivery and operation of the trams, according to the BWB. «We are proud and happy to own one of the most modern fleets of Europe», said Marcel Kuttler, technical manager with the Basel Transport Services (BVB).
«We are happy that our modern Flexity trams, which circulate in many cities, make the Basler customers happy, and connect the region in three countries», said Stéphane Wettstein, managing director of Bombardier Transportation (Switzerland) AG.

BVB was looking for a name of the last Flexity tram via its Facebook page. More than 1,000 people submitted a suggestion, and the majority voted for the name «Piccolo». The double meaning of the name doesn't just underline the short length of the tram (it is one of the last «short» trams), but also shows a connection to the Fasnacht instrument. The christening was marked with a small celebration (pictures can be viewed on the BVB Facebook page).