24 October 2018

More dockless bikes set to be released as bike share trial nears halfway mark

| Lachlan Roberts
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The Australian-owned company Airbike released a fleet of 200 dockless bikes in Canberra at the end of July. Photos: Supplied by Airbike.

The Australian-owned company Airbike released a fleet of 200 dockless bikes in Canberra at the end of July. Photos: Supplied by Airbike.

The founder and director of Canberra’s bike-sharing service said thousands of Canberrans are using the bike share program as the six-month trial nears its halfway mark, with negotiations underway to increase the number of bikes used in the trial.

Since launching at the start of August, Airbike has seen 4,500 trips on the network so far with around 10,000 Canberrans downloading the free app as part of the ACT government’s six-month trial of the service.

The dockless bikes have been placed around the city centre, ANU’s campus and the Parliamentary Zone, and were available for return or one-way trips without having to be returned to a docking station. 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 way to move between the national institutions.

Airbike chief Angus McDonald said it was not a surprise that over half of those registered on the app hadn’t used the service as yet and expects to see the number of active users grow.

“There has been heaps of activity on the network, which has been great,” Mr McDonald said. “The whole idea behind dockless bike share is the convenience. It is not that convenient to download the app while you are waiting in the open air but it is more convenient to download it when you are at home on your wifi and then when you see a bike in the street you use it.

“We have around 1,600 really active users who have been using it nearly every day, with up to 60 trips on the network in the past two and half months.”

The company’s data shows that a lot of its users are uni students travelling from the ANU campus to the City and back, and the company is working with the university to provide more parking spots on its campus.

Mr McDonald also believes the fleet of bikes is spread pretty thin across the trial area, especially near the university campus and is hoping to see more bikes allocated to the trial.

“When I walk around, I don’t see that many bikes around. Particularly in the ANU we are a bit thin on the ground and a few more bikes would help that out,” he said.

“We did some demand testing and results show that we need more bikes, which is something that we are working on.”

The current contract with the ACT Government and Airbike is 200 dockless bikes, but the Australian-owned company have entered into negotiations with the Government to increase the number.

Mr McDonald said the only complaints they have received from users is the occasional technology failure, which is to be expected.

“The ACT Government really like the scheme because it is getting more people around but they want it to be regulated and to make sure what happened in Sydney or Melbourne does not occurr here, which it isn’t,” Mr McDonald said.

“The scheme is getting so much more use than Sydney or Melbourne and it is really rewarding to see. I think there is a good scope to grow. The company on a users level is growing at a rate of 80 per cent per month and it is holding.

“We are really happy with it and I think the reason why it is not like Sydney or Melbourne is because we are bringing it in really gently. It has got a user base now so as we put a few more bikes in, it will be used more and the idea is to have a really nice transport network to compliment everything else in Canberra.”

A spokesperson for the Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris said the bike share trial to date has been positive – both in terms of usage and feedback about bike share as a service.

“As expected, people have been using bike share more and more as the warmer weather arrived and Transport Canberra and City Services is working towards providing the people of Canberra with an integrated transport network and provides a real alternative to the private car,” the spokesperson said.

“Bike share is relatively new to Australia and this trial is providing us with an opportunity to carefully consider the role that it can play in an integrated network. There is already some evidence to show that people are using bikes to connect to public transport which is an exciting emerging trend.”

Have you used the dockless bike trail? Would you like to see more bikes released? Let us know your thoughts below.

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