An Auckland company wants to install park-and-charge stations for e-bikes on city streets to help end riders' anxieties about running out of electricity.
Big Street Bikers plans to set up two trial sites, in Auckland's Ponsonby Rd cafe strip and at LynnMall shopping centre in New Lynn, next month.
The 18-month-old business hooked up with power company Mercury last summer to set up a solar-powered electric-bike station at Viaduct Harbour.
Electric bikes, although still relatively uncommon in New Zealand, have grown in popularity as a way of getting around cities.
The founders of Big Street Bikers, Andrew Charlesworth and Matt Weavers, estimate at least 20,000 e-bikes have been purchased in New Zealand.
They envisage e-bikes playing an important role in reducing road congestion and hope to persuade building owners and city authorities to contribute to the setting up of park-and-charge stations.
In a presentation to the Waitematā Local Board today, the company said its vision was to see 10,000 e-bikers on Auckland streets by 2020 meaning "less traffic, less pollution, less stressed citizens and more space".
Based on a model they say is popular in Northern Europe, the park-and-charge stations offer secure parking and free electricity for the bikes of registered users who access the service through a phone app. The system can also be integrated with Auckland Transport's Hop card.
By allowing riders to top up their batteries outside their workplace, libraries, museums or while shopping, the stations would alleviate their fears about having to pedal a heavy e-bike home without the help of its electric motor.
Weavers and Charlesworth, who are also investigating setting up stations in Christchurch and Tauranga, hope to secure some local authority funding.
Weavers said the Viaduct recharging station was going well.
"All the bikes are only charging off the solar set-up on the roof so everyone is riding on sunshine. A nice sentiment and a Kiwi example of what petrol-free personal transport can look like."
He said the company was setting up another station like its one at the Viaduct. "[It] is going to roam around Auckland over summer."
The Herald has sought a comment from Auckland Transport on the company's plans for park-and-charge stations.
A spokeswoman for Auckland Transport said it was co-funding a trial of the company's e-bike charging stations.
"The trial is for a year and we are contributing $20,000 towards the installation for the trial. We have also worked closely with Big Street Bikers on the location of the charging stations, to ensure they don't block the footpath.
"With more and more people choosing to ride e-bikes as a convenient and efficient way of getting around Auckland, we are pleased to be partnering with Big Street Bikers to offer charging stations and we look forward to seeing how well they are used when the project launches.
"We can also consider opportunities for charging stations at public transport stations as the project progresses."