What if Wellington had bike share that matched Brisbane’s in scope?

4 08 2013

It’s 3 years since I rode on the Brisbane bike share scheme. Since then the system has expanded to 150 stations and 2000 bikes. It is now about the 16th biggest system in the world. Geographically the system stretches from the University of Queensland in St Lucia to Teneriffe and New Farm which is about 11 or 12km , with some stations at Dutton Park, New Farm and Toowong.

A successful bike share scheme needs to be dense in some places, but geographically dispersed enough to make many journeys possible. There should be safe routes to ride, and support both functional and recreational trips. In Brisbane it links in with the train, bus and ferry networks, and becomes a great adjunct to the public transport system.

On this map of Central Brisbane the blue dots are bike share stations and the solid red lines are off road cycle paths, and the thicker dotted lines are on road bike routes.

central Brisbane

I think CityCycle in Brisbane is doing a lot of things right. But so far it hasn’t been a greatly successful scheme and since visiting in 2010 Brisbane has dropped the casual day hire rate from $11 to $2 to attract more riders. Still, of the 2000 bikes, they are getting hired at little more than once a day, which is amongst the lowest of any scheme in the world. The apparent failure of the scheme is largely attributable to two things. One is the limited hours of service, from 5am and 10pm. The other is the necessity of wearing helmets to ride a bike, which is a stupid law on a whole lot of levels. Assuming we could change the law and bring some sensible helmet policy in, such as non-mandatory helmets for adults, then we should entertain the idea of having a central city bike share scheme in Wellington. A third possible factor is that riders have to be over 18. I’d reduce this to 14.

The number 1 problem of Wellington is that the railway station is too far from a lot of the city. Problem solved. The Interlslander terminal is not really that walkable from the CBD. Problem solved.

If Wellington had a scheme where there were bikes for hire from Kaiwharawhara in the north (although a Ngaio Gorge cycleway, with a bike station at Crofton Downs would be pretty cool), to Kelburn Village in the west (ride the cablecar to the top and then ride a cycle share to the village) to Oriental Parade in the east  and the hospital and Newtown in the south, with all of the CBD and Te Aro covered, then it would look something like this. Note it is only about 50 stations, so would need about 6 or 7 hundred bikes:

(Red stars are bike stations, green lines are separated bike lanes or routes)

Bikes are funded in large part by advertising. A supportive city council would build all the infrastructure, such as safe cycle lanes which would benefit all cyclists, not just bike share ones. The bikes are pretty functional, and are vandal resistant, have 3 gears and step thru frames. They are comfortable sit up bikes.


One side of Featherston St could have bike lanes like this one in Vancouver, by taking out one side of the parking. There are too many cars in the CBD. Let’s make it a little more human friendly.


It could be contraflowed to the one way of Featherston St too, like this one on George St in Brisbane. There’s a lot of room for separated cycleways on Taranaki Street and on Cambridge and/or Kent Terraces. Bicycles certainly belong on Wellington streets, and will return the city to the people.

I got to try out the smaller system in Salt Lake CIty earlier this year. I just like this photo.

Salt Lake City (15)

There is another vision for the city other than as a carpark at the end of the motorway.

Would you use a bike in a bike share scheme? Sometimes, never? Are there other parts of the city that you’d like to see them? Would you carry around a helmet to ride them? Do you like the idea because there’d have to be safer routes in the city and you’d ride your normal bike in a safer environment? Would you use a similar scheme in the Hutt, Porirua or Kapiti?



4 responses

4 08 2013
Andy Foster

Nice post Matthew. We did quite a bit of work with a commercial operator from Auckland a couple of years ago. Pretty much along the lines you suggest. We talked about locations for cycle stands, design etc. The problem was that with the economic conditions as they were at the time he just couldn’t make the advertising work. That will change in time so it is quite possible that one day we will be able to develop such a proposal for Wellington.

Warmest regards


5 08 2013
Cr Paul Bruce

Yes, great idea, but I think we need to get those cycle lanes sorted first, with physical separation from the traffic like theVancouver example you show. And yes, parking on many arterial routes would have to go, but where there really was parking demand, a parking building could be provided.
However, reliable and frequent public transport together with safe cycle ways leads to modal shift, less traffic and lowered need for city parking.
Everybody wins!

5 08 2013

I think bike share schemes are a great idea, and I agree with Paul Bruce that the first step is getting some of the fundamentals in place, most pressingly safe cycle lanes. Wellington is renowned for being one of the most dangerous cities to cycle in New Zealand and that would dampen demand until we can make the city a safer place to cycle.

I support making the construction of cycle lanes a priority, focussing first on the major commuter routes from the suburbs into the CBD.

5 08 2013
Cycle Lanes from Suburbs to CBD – Idea Whose Time Has Come | Jacob Toner

[…] Wellington Region Cycleways has just posted an article on the possibilities for a bike share scheme where bikes are rented and able to be taken from bike stations posted around the city. I’ve seen similar bike rental schemes work wonderfully in Hiroshima, Japan and they are a real tourist magnet as well as being an asset to residents. […]

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