Copenhagen has started to Beta test an electric bike share scheme.
The bikes have been made available to a trial group and have apparently worked well. There are concerns that Copenhagen’s strong cycling culture will actually work against the scheme as it wont be able to meet the high standard expectations of the Danish user.
Copenhagen’s first low-tech attempt at a bike sharing scheme was not successful from a logistical point of view. The coin operated system did not have a deposit large enough to encourage users to return bikes and many bikes were left around the city to degrade.
However, it sounds like this new scheme will be anything but low tech. The bikes come with a smart phone app for booking bikes and a tablet that includes GPS guidance. The coolest thing is that the system will be able to detect when a bike sharing station is low on bikes and offer credit to users if bikes are returned to that station. The flow of bikes in one direction, leaving popular stations empty or overflowing, has been one of the few glitches in the very popular New York Citibike system, so this seems like an smart fix. It will also mean less bikes are needed as they are spread out better.
Edinburgh, a city with a similarly hilly topography to Auckland, has been considering a proposal by a young Scottish entrepreneur to start an electric bike share scheme.
So it seems like a great idea for Auckland. One thing we would all like to see is more Council and CCO staff travelling around the city by bike. We know that AT has no bikes available for staff, while ATEED has electric bikes for staff and they are well used. It is a pity not to see AT leading in this field. So how about it AT? Electric bikes for staff?
As some of you may know, I ride an electric bike and I have no doubt they are the way forward for a lot of cyclists, and in Auckland in particular. It is like having someone else pedalling to take the strain going up slopes or into a head wind. I think an electric bike scheme would ensure the popularity of the share scheme and encourage people to cycle.
I wouldn’t be keen to see that now though because Australian experience has taught that bike share schemes struggle in countries with cycle helmet laws. If the scheme failed, it could set cycling back in Auckland by being used as proof that Aucklanders don’t like cycling, as has happened in Brisbane. Israel recently scaled back its cycle helmet law because of the fear that the Tel Aviv bike share scheme would fail – adult riders in urban areas are exempt. Spain has had a similar law since 2004.