Free bikes plan for Christchurch

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 22/05/2013
Aaron Keown, Robert Henderson, biking
DAVID HALLETT/Fairfax NZ
PART OF THE CULTURE: City councillor Aaron Keown, left, and Robert Henderson with two of the prototype bikes for Christchurch’s proposed bike share scheme.
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A push to get a bike-share scheme included in Christchurch's public transport network could result in more people pedalling their way around the city.

Planning for the scheme is still in its early stages, but the goal is to have bike rental stations on every inner city block so that people can cycle around rather than use buses or cars.

The bikes will be free for journeys of less than 30 minutes.

The scheme is being promoted by Christchurch City councillor Aaron Keown and Robert Henderson, of Bicycle Ventures Ltd, who hope to convince the NZ Transport Agency to consider the scheme as part of the public transport network and help fund it.

The pair plan to trial the scheme in spring by setting up bike rental stations outside the old Civic Offices in Tuam St.

"It will give us a chance to see how people react to it and to iron out any problems," Keown said.

Bike-share schemes have become popular in many overseas cities, including London and Dublin.

Dublin's scheme, introduced in 2009, is considered one of the most successful in the world. More than 5 million journeys have been using the dublinbikes scheme and it has proven so popular the city is doubling the number of rental stations to 102 and trebling the number of bikes to 1500.

In Australia, however, where it is mandatory to wear cycle helmets, bike-share schemes have not done so well.

Melbourne introduced a bike-share scheme in 2010 but it has been criticised for having too few parking docks to be convenient and for requiring riders to have their own helmets.

In Brisbane the state government has been handing out free helmets to try to breathe life into its failing bike-share programme, which has yet to break even in three years of operation.

Henderson said the bikes on hire in Christchurch would come with helmets, which would be regularly sanitised.

Keown said the layout of Christchurch's new central business districtlent itself to cycling and it made sense to get a bike-share scheme in place now so that when people started moving back into the area, cycling was part of the culture.

If both the bike-share scheme and the proposed $70 million cycleway network went ahead, Christchurch would be the most cycle-friendly city in New Zealand, he said.

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- The Press

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