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