Genèveroule: over 20 years of history
…from Véloc to Genève’roule
It all began in 1996, when two former employees of Péclot 13, in partnership with ASPIC (now Pro Vélo), set up a new bicycle collection and rental structure at 17 Place de Montbrillant.
Directly inspired by the Zurich association “Zürirollt”, this project, called “Véloc”, provides for a professional integration programme for the unemployed (temporary employment programme of the OCE).
In 1997, a new law on unemployment insurance was passed, which tightened the criteria for access to temporary jobs and reduced the funds allocated to this programme: despite a good start, the business collapsed and it was the Geneva Red Cross, in 1998, that saved the project by taking it over under the new name of “Genèv’roule”.
In addition to the initial missions of recovering abandoned cycles, promoting soft mobility and socio-professional integration, the Geneva Red Cross has added an objective that is dear to its heart: promoting public health through the use of bicycles.
In addition, the institution opens the work placements to migrants.
Creation of « Genève roule », a non-profit association of public utility
After several successful years of renting and lending bicycles free of charge, the Geneva Red Cross decided to abandon the “Genèv’roule” project in order to concentrate on its core activities.
The structure was then rescued by several actors of soft mobility, including Christoph Meier and Giuliano Broggini known for their commitment in the field of cycling, and it was perpetuated in the form of an independent association recognised as being of public utility and not for profit: Genèveroule.
Still located on the premises of the arcade, Genève roule also has three containers dedicated to free loans at the Place du Rhône, Plainpalais and Pâquis.
Multiplying the services – rental and loan, corporate mobility, repair workshops – the association develops year after year, with the support of the Canton, the City of Geneva and the Federal Office for Refugees (currently the Migration Office).
A milestone year
2007 is a milestone year for the development of the association.
Firstly, in terms of image: the name was simplified to “Genèveroule” and the new yellow and red logo was introduced in 2008. The same graphic line is subsequently applied to the Suisseroule network.
The containers are renewed and fitted with solar panels.
Secondly, in terms of infrastructure, the management of the loan and rental sites is now computerised, which improves logistics and gives users greater flexibility: loan bikes can be borrowed and dropped off at different sites.
The arrival of electric bikes
Having recently arrived on the market, electric bicycles will initiate major changes in terms of the development of private partnerships.
It was the FSASD (now imad) that chose Genèveroule in 2008 for the acquisition of electrically-assisted bicycles: the institution had a great need for efficient means of transport for its care staff.
From 2009 to 2014, Genèveroule and the City of Geneva are organising several free self-service bicycle loan sessions throughout the city in order to raise awareness of this new means of transport.
The period 2008-2012 was also a period of strong growth in infrastructure, as Genèveroule acquired two additional arcades – Terrassière in 2010 and Meyrinroule in 2012 – and a new lending site, Carougeroule (2008), offering free electric bicycles for the first time.
A winning scheme that will later be completed by two loan sites equipped with electric bikes: Nations (2015) and Versoixroule (2016).
Strengthening the socio-professional integration of foreigners
From the outset, Genèveroule has promoted cultural diversity at work and has integrated asylum seekers and refugees into its bicycle rental and lending teams.
A long-standing partner of the association, the Hospice général has been referring many asylum seekers to the association since the early years.
In 2010, an agreement was signed which defines the contractual framework for socio-professional internships for migrants and thus strengthens this programme, which is also supported by the Bureau for the Integration of Foreigners (BIE).
From “Training and Job Search Centre” to “Career counseling”
In addition to work integration activities, training and support services for trainees were added in 2009: in 2008 the association hired an HR manager and from 2009 onwards computer courses were given in addition to technical courses related to bicycle rental and maintenance.
The Pôle de Formation et de Recherche d’Emploi was created in 2011 and the association now has a trainer, who offers French courses.
This new structure aims to improve the employability of temporary employees.
It is in this perspective that the Career counseling Service of Genèveroule was created in 2016, with the support of the BIE.
Open to all, this service offers coaching and personalised follow-up for the job search.
The Flying Mechanic
This rapid assistance service, whose project won the cantonal sustainable development award in 2013, has offered technical assistance to cyclists who break down at the roadside until 2019.
Inspired by the principles of a solidarity economy and thanks to the support of the City of Geneva’s Unemployment Fund, it operated in partnership with local cycle dealers for repatriation to a repair workshop.
Genèveroule is also actively involved in the development of a free-access bicycle system (VLS) in the Canton of Geneva.
15 years of commitment
For the past 15 years, Genèveroule has undoubtedly been one of the main players in the field of cycling in Geneva, a role that the association is fully fulfilling while waiting for the setting up of a free-access bicycle network.
As a socio-professional integration structure, Genèveroule is consolidating its achievements and reinforcing its mission to encourage the integration of disadvantaged populations into the labour market.
The success of the founding project over the past 15 years – setting up a mobility project with employees experiencing difficulties with integration – proves and demonstrates the relevance of the integrative work dear to the association, according to which the labour market must integrate all people, while respecting the particularities and capacities of each person.
On this occasion, Genèveroule presents in 2017 its new logo which reflects its dual mission “Vélo & insertion”, realises the project “Mains à l’oeuvre – l’égalité dans la diversité” within the framework of the Week against Racism 2017 and organises a Great Multicultural Cycling Parade.
New loan system
In order to respond even better to current needs in terms of mobility, Genèveroule equips its loaner bikes with electronic locks, allowing them to be locked or unlocked using the “Donkey Republic” application.
Bicycles can be borrowed or returned at all the loan sites in the association’s network, regardless of their opening hours.
Two new municipalities join the lending network : Onex and Grand-Saconnex.
Institutions such as the HEG and the Youth Hostel are also among the new partners in the network, thus increasing the number of bikes available free of charge.
With the support of the State of Geneva, sites are also being deployed near Leman Express stations.
Arrival of a cantonal free-access bicycle network
In the very particular context of the Covid-19 pandemic, Genèveroule has greatly expanded its network of free-access bicycle stations connected to the Donkey Republic application.
With the support of the State, stations have been set up in the vicinity of P+Rs and strategic locations in the canton to accompany the deconfinment phase.
The network has grown from 13 to 30 sites from April to June 2020!
Following a tender process, the Canton and the 20 municipalities interested in hosting self-service bicycle stations have unanimously appointed Donkey Republic as the operator of a self-service bicycle network.
The VéloPartage network was inaugurated on 18 August and offers classic and electric bicycles on a self-service basis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 120 stations in the canton.
With more than 15 years of experience in the management of a network of loaned and self-service bicycles, the Genèveroule association is very happy to be part of VéloPartage.
Such a network is an important lever for encouraging the use of bicycles while creating jobs for socio-professional integration.
Within VéloPartage, Genèveroule monitors and maintains the cycles, balances the stations and replaces the batteries of the electric bikes.
On the way to the Espace Tourbillon
In 2021, one of our objectives is to strengthen the links with our partners and to create new ones. Since 2018, close links have been forged with nine social enterprises in the Canton as part of the “Espace Tourbillon” project in Plan-les-Ouates.
This space offers an ideal framework for developing inter-institutional collaboration, creating synergies and bringing out new promising projects in the field of integration.
Genèveroule moves there in autumn 2021 with its administration, its mechanical workshop and its “Career counseling” service.
New partnerships have been developed with the Association Cerebral Genève to provide a Cerebral Tricycle dedicated to the transport of people with disabilities, with Cocomat for the rental of wooden bicycles and with Miloo for the rental of new generation electric bicycles.
For Genèveroule, the year 2021 is also about all the benefits of cycling: beneficial for the body and the mind, cycling is your ideal partner to keep smiling, healthy and friendly!
Genèveroule since 20 years
In 2022, the Genèveroule association celebrates its 20th anniversary!
Considering the many challenges facing our society, both in the field of sustainable development and the integration of marginalised people, Genèveroule’s action is more relevant and necessary than ever. The employees are happy to make their contribution to a more sustainable and just world.