Pedal power to 'join the dots'

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 05:00 30/08/2012

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A plan to combine Christchurch people's desire for green transport with the sporadic rebirth of the city is being pushed by a young Canterbury entrepreneur.

Bicycle Ventures director Robert Henderson, of Strowan, said public bikes with stands around the city was sustainable and easy to set up.

He has partnered with the Auckland-based New Zealand licensee of the German Nextbike technology to market the system in the Garden City.

He has trials under way with Christchurch Hospital and the University of Canterbury student village.

The organisations lease the bikes, while Bicycle Ventures maintains them and provides the software and equipment to allow them to be used free by staff and students. It was working well and he hoped to enlist other organisations that wanted to offer an easy and eco-friendly way for staff to get around the city.

"Those big employers who want to provide a nice sustainable way for their staff to get out at lunch and get around."

He has a concept using, of course, the humble shipping container to house the bike racks and automated kiosks so they can be easily rolled out where they are needed. That would allow the bikes to be placed in any temporary pop-up areas that would not warrant a large public transport investment.

His grand plan was to get the bikes rolled out across the city for the public to hire like in European countries.

Transport had been the most popular subject of public submissions for the Christchurch City Council's draft central city plan which was released last year.

Henderson saw public bikes as a cheap and effective way to "connect the dots" of the city as buildings and hubs pop up from the rubble.

He had spoken to city hotels which were keen to get bike stands outside their front door for their guests to use after reopening.

Public bikes worked best when partnered with other public transport such as buses, he said, but he was yet to get the ear of Environment Canterbury (ECan), which runs the city's bus service.

The Nextbike technology should be able to integrate easily with ECan's Metrocard bus payment system which could boost the effectiveness and patronage of the bus network, he said.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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