Road test for new smart bikes

13 Mar 2017

Sometime soon a Metrocard could get you a ride on a bike, not just a ride on the bus.

A trial is being launched to test the capabilities of two nextbikes imported from Germany, that are able to read public transport travel cards and are equipped with GPS technology. 

Rob Henderson (left) and Nick Lovett with the new bikes.

Christchurch Bike Share's Rob Henderson (left) and Nick Lovett with the new smart bikes.

It’s the first time these smart bikes have hit the streets anywhere in Australasia, but they are widely used in European and North American cities.

A card, such as a Metrocard which allows people to pay for bus journeys, can be scanned by a reader on the back of the bike and an electronic lock mechanism on the bike is released.

Metrocard holders in central Christchurch workplaces, including a group from Christchurch City Council and possibly Environment Canterbury, will be able to test ride the bikes over the next few months. The trial is expected to begin in the next few weeks and the bikes will be parked in the foyer of the Council's Civic Offices.

The bikes have been part funded by a Council grant to facilitate innovative transport solutions. The trial will help evaluate the viability of using these bikes, and provide user feedback on how easy it is to use the Metrocard to access the bikes.

Combined with data gathered from the Christchurch Bike Share Pilot, which was launched in August 2015, the two projects will help determine the success of introducing a full-scale public bike share scheme for Christchurch.

Rob Henderson, who manages the Christchurch Bike Share Project, which already has 36 bikes available for hire at six stations around the city, has always wanted to integrate his bikes with the public transport system and the nextbike trial is a big step in that direction.

“We’ve now got two of these smart bikes that can read transport cards. We’re working on integrating them with the Metrocard. This trial is a way of testing the technology and a demonstration of what could happen in the future.”

Councillor Vicki Buck, who chairs the Council's Innovation and Sustainable Development Committee, says the smart bikes will showcase what could be possible in the future  a world class city-wide public transport system that utilises smart bikes.

“This is an opportunity for Metrocard users to get hands-on experience of how easy it is to use bikeshare as part of their public transport journey”.

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