An exciting announcement today, via the Minister of Transport: Auckland Transport, with the support of NZTA, is moving forward with a feasibility study for a bikeshare scheme for central Auckland! (Christchurch is on the cards too, but naturally our eye is drawn to our city).

Says AT’s Kathryn King:

By the end of next year we will have completed a number of vital links for people travelling into and around the city centre by bike. This, combined with international evidence that cycle share schemes work when they are done right, mean that now is the perfect time to begin these investigations.

The feasibility report is expected around the end of September, and based on the findings, AT would be ‘looking to the market around October to see who we could work with to operate a scheme.’ Assuming all goes well, the project would proceed under the 2018-2021 funding period, with a potential launch in the summer of 2019/2020.

This is fantastic news. We’re totally in favour of anything that makes it easier for people to consider using bikes for local trips – whether for work or pleasure – and the power of bikes to amplify the reach of public transport is well established.

Bikeshare is a mobility solution based on one fundamental idea: you don’t have to own a bike (or have your bike with you) to use a bike. Along with car share, it’s a clear sign of a maturing urban transport system – witness London’s ‘Boris Bikes’, NYC’s phenomenally successful Citibike scheme which continues to expand, Portland’s BikeTown programme, and many many others. (Shout-out to our local pioneer NextBike for keeping the faith and holding space for the bikeshare concept in Auckland over the past several years).

London, July 2016. An empty bikeshare station is like an ’empty’ bike lane: proof of efficiency! (Photo: Bike Auckland)

As AT says in the accompanying factsheet (ATNZTA Cycle Share Factsheet – click for PDF), Auckland is the perfect candidate for bikeshare:

The formula for success. (Image: AT & NZTA’s cycle share fact sheet)

And Mayor Phil Goff backs that up with a great new statistic: ‘Bikes now make up 9.4% of inbound morning peak traffic on Upper Queen Street which shows just how significant this mode of transport is becoming for Auckland.’ Sure does! That’s why we were glad to invite him along to witness the phenomenon in person last month.

Bike Auckland pit stop at Upper Queen St, on a foggy morning in April. (Photo: Bike Auckland)

So, what might Auckland bikeshare look like? Naturally, all sorts of questions come to mind. Bikes at train stations and ferry terminals, that you could take home and bring back the next morning? Regular bikes or e-bikes, or both? Something for commuters to zip around on, something for tourists to amble along Tamaki Drive on, or both? Bikes with docking stations, or bikes you can pick up or leave any old where?

Capital Bikeshare, a capital bikeshare scheme for the U.S. capital. (Photo: Bike Auckland)

Bike share is a vigorously expanding concept worldwide – and we’re sure AT and NZTA are taking into account the profoundly positive disruptive potential. On the other side of the equation, we’ve all seen the pictures of dockless bikes piled up around Chinese cities. And our colleagues at Transportation Alternatives in NYC have sounded a note of caution about similar pop-up dockless schemes that might stunt the public transport utility of Citibike. Other cities have found bikes tend to collect in certain spots, which raises questions of redistribution, which turns out to be rocket science. And the question of how to fund the schemes varies from place to pace.

Lots to think about! We await developments with great interest. What do you reckon?

Citibikes and city bikes in Soho, NYC: a bike-friendly ecosystem in practice. (Photo: Bike Auckland)
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  • Velove

    Mixed electric/analog bike fleet, which hook up to the same docks. A system that rewards people for bringing a bike uphill to lessen the redistribution required. Start with small area, high concentration rather than spreading it too thin – moving outwards incrementally. Helmets BYO and optional.

    • Bring it on

      Yes to all of these! Though I think lots of leg-powered bikes is far better than a handful of e-bikes. The key is in encouraging people to make short distance trips on these, not to end up with half the fleet out at Westgate or something.

  • icanhearvoices

    Helmets?

  • Jan

    I love it!! Can’t wait! In my Norwegian hometown the bike scheme is for e-bikes which have built in tablets with GPS & mapping! http://bysykkelen.no/no/om-el-bysykkelen/ Have also tried the bike schemes in London and Warsaw and it really works well!

  • Barbara Adler

    I love love love the idea and auckland is overdue for something like this but I honestly don’t think it can work with the current helmet law :-/ and I genuinely fear that the trial will fail because of it….. so frustrating!

  • Oracle

    Should have researched article better. AT are actually slowing the bike share scheme down to a halt. Via podcast you could have seen a group presenting to auckland council already 2 months ago with a funded scheme . A local company Ecyclesnz had managed to get near $1 million in funding from private sector to fund 100 ebikes … only AT got jalous as it was not “its” idea and promptly halted it … by launching a study ” into feasability ” -?? as in serious. We still need to find out whether ebikes can solve a mobility gridlock – ???
    Talk to your local counsellors and get them to look into the cronyism st AT / its rampant

    • Velove

      What podcast are you talking about?

    • Bruce Copeland

      It seems that there are a number of credible, well resources groups keen to get involved in Bike Share. I also assume that they would like their schemes to be supported by AT and AC and to be coordinated to other transport modes. In particular most Bike shares utilise public space for docking stations etc
      What process would you suggest NZTA and AT go through instead? Or should they just give their blessing to the first one off the rank which would be Next Bike or welcome the Chinese operators in and it can be one glorious laissez faire free for all?

  • Richard horner

    This scheme is a roaring success around the world with the exception of Australia, the only country apart from NZ to have a mandatory helmet law. There is a bike park near Flinders St station in Melbourne which is usually full of unused bikes. Apparently you have to go along the road and buy a cheap helmet to use them! There is a small scheme going in Cambridge now where many people cycle and I haven’t seen any bikes out in use when passing. If the Mayor of Ak is keen is he going to ask his old colleagues in Wellington to repeal the helmet law?