The nation’s capital is set for its first bike share program with a six-month dockless trial to start in the heart of the city in the coming weeks.
ACT Transport and City Services Minister Mick Gentleman announced that the trial would start on 30 July, with the Australian-owned company Airbike to release a fleet of 200 dockless bikes at the end of the month.
The trial area will cover the city centre, ANU’s campus and the Parliamentary Zone, with the bikes available for return or one-way trips without having to be returned to a docking station. It is currently unclear how the bikes will be contained within the trial area.
Mr Gentleman said the new bike share program would provide Canberrans and visitors with a new convenient and eco-friendly means of transportation and he hoped the scheme would encourage locals and tourists to live a more healthy and active lifestyle.
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Dockless bike share schemes, where bikes can be picked up and dropped off anywhere, have been operating in other states but there have been issues with dumped bikes cluttering paths and streets.
Mr Gentleman addressed concerns about the dockless bike scheme after Sydney’s and Melbourne’s struggles with the program, saying the Airbike team will closely monitor use and immediately move any bikes parked inappropriately.
Mr Gentleman believes with dedicated bike parking zones, geo-fencing technologies and Airbike’s commitment to moving bikes as necessary, the trial will greatly benefit Canberrans.
“The trial seeks to establish a successful bike share scheme in the ACT which contributes to positioning Canberra as Australia’s cycling capital, is integrated with public transport, and provides a genuine transport option meeting the particular needs and preferences of Canberrans,” Mr Gentleman said.
Under new Government guidelines introduced last year, dockless bike share operators in the ACT will have to provide GPS tracking for all bikes and employ enough staff to ensure they can be recovered quickly if discarded in Canberra streets.
The guidelines say each bike “should be equipped with GPS functionality to enable service providers to easily identify and take action to ensure an appropriate balance of bikes across the catchment network”.
The ACT Government believes the bike share scheme can ease traffic congestion, parking issues, meet sustainability goals in these areas as well as provide a “pleasant and timely way” to move between the national institutions.
National Capital Authority Chief Sally Barnes said the NCA welcomed the trial.
“We are optimistic that users will respect the cultural and symbolic significance of these areas by parking responsibly using existing, designated parking,” she said.
“Bike share offers a wonderful opportunity for Canberra residents and visitors to experience our cultural institutions and sites of national significance within the Parliamentary Zone and Lake Burley Griffin foreshore.”
Airbike, the first Australian-owned and operated dockless bike-sharing platform, uses a smartphone app to show the nearest available bike and allows the cyclist to unlock or lock the bike.
For more information about the trial and the guidelines for dockless bike share, visit the Transport Canberra website.