Our cities have established public transport links from the outer suburbs to their centers, but finding a connecting service for the last part of the journey is frustrating, expensive and time consuming.
More than 500 international cities have installed bike share networks in their centers to help with that last segment of the journey. It's time New Zealand did the same?
Kiwis are ready for this. Small numbers of rental bikes, locks and easy-to-use helmets have been provided thanks to Waterfront Auckland and Hobsonville Land Company at Hobsonville Point, and these have been used by thousands of Aucklanders. Then there were the 500-or-so people who pledged money to run a 2 year bike share pilot scheme in Christchurch that will start later this year.
Our cities are focusing on providing great cycle paths, slower speed roads and shared spaces, all of which make cycling a joy. In the central cities we are seeing a greater density of places to work and live, so more people are needing to do relatively short trips. It is time to provide not only cycle paths but easy access to bikes in our central cities.
Bike share is a different type of public transport system that allows the user to decide when and where they travel within the city. If you can see a bike at a rental station you can pick it up immediately and ride it to one of the other many rental stations in the central city. No waiting for the next bus or stopping and starting to pick up other passengers.
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Public funding is needed for bikes, just as it is for buses and trains, to create a meaningful network of shared bikes and rental stations for locals to use whenever they need to get around their central cities.
The benefits to a city are many and include making longer distance commutes by bus train and ferry more attractive because users have easy access to bikes once in the CBD. Quieter streets and greater visibility of bikes have been shown to help increase safety for all cyclists, with the stats estimating that doubling the number of cyclists, almost halves the crash rate. Cost and space are small and the time to build a network can be measured in just a handful of months. Research from America highlighted 83 per cent of Washington DC's bike share membership was likely to shop close to a bike rental station.
A bike share pilot by Waterfront Auckland in 2014 made it clear that bike share helps introduce new people to riding, with 9 out of 10 users of the Waterfront bikes choosing to ride because there was a bike available. The clear message from the project was that 8 out of 10 respondents wanted more bikes and rental stations so that they could travel by bike more often.
Auckland is the only city in New Zealand to have the idea of a public bike share network included in city plans. However, despite Auckland Regional Transport Authority's (ARTA) Auckland Plan including a public bike share network, ARTA's Regional Land Transport Plan does not.
Auckland Transport is asking for public feedback on its long term and transport plans, until 4pm on Monday March 16. Say you are thrilled to see bike share listed in the regional plan, you want it included in the basic plan as well and want continued investment in cycle paths.