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UC students trial bike share scheme

Samantha Gee - Bike Share Photos
WHEELS GO ROUND: First year students Olivia Austin and Emma-Leigh Theobald test out the new Borrow-A-Bike scheme at the University of Canterbury.
Photo: Samantha Gee.

Students are testing a bike-sharing system at the University of Canterbury to see if there is demand for a larger, fully automated bike share scheme worth about $20,000.

The trial began in July, with 10 bikes available for daily use to help students and staff travel on and around campus.
Students’ Association finance officer Cam Bignell said that due to earthquakes repairs, a lot of students have to go to the Dovedale campus for classes and the system provides “a good way to get there without racing across in the car”.

Those who want to use the bikes must register at the student association office with their ID card, and a helmet and key are then provided.

The bikes must be returned by 5pm each day.

Bachelor of Arts students Olivia Austin, 18 and Emma-Leigh Theobald, 19 use the bikes to ride to the recreation centre on campus.

They liked the scheme and were looking forward to using the bikes during the summer. 

“We’ve made a decision to ride them every Friday for general exercise.”

The bikes used for the trial are unclaimed lost property, donated by the security department and repaired by members of university club UC Bike to ensure they are safe and user-friendly.

Each bike has its own character, being built from a mixture of parts from about 30 road and mountain bikes.  They have been converted to single speed to reduce maintenance issues.

Bignell said the university had been approached by bicycle share company NextBike with a proposal to introduce permanent bike sharing infrastructure.  The trial is testing demand before any commitment to the scheme, which will cost an estimated $20,000.

The fully automated system would remove the need to register to use the bikes and all administration and maintenance would be taken care of by NextBike.

A decision on whether to adopt it would be made before the end of the year.

NextBike director Robert Henderson said a bike sharing system has been established with Campus Living Villages, which manages accommodation at the university.

It is now in its third year, with bike stations at three of the halls of residence. Henderson said  “almost every bike is used every day” and they are often seen in different locations around the city.

Henderson said his experience with Campus Living Villages had shown that there was demand for a bike-share system at the university and that it is clear from similar schemes overseas that they are most successful when they are part of the public transport system.

“The ideal scenario would be to have multiple stations where you can pick up a bike from one station and return it to another.’’

If introduced, the system will be the first fully automated bike share scheme in a New Zealand university.

_Samantha Gee for The Mail