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Wellington, New Zealand Tests Public E-Bike Share Scheme

Wellington city residents and visitors will be able to hire e-bikes to get around as the City Council’s Environment and Infrastructure Committee has unanimously approved trialling a public e-bike share scheme.

Wellington’s two existing e-scooter providers will each be able to offer up to 150 e-bikes from early in the new year. Operators will start with 50 bikes each and add more based on demand up to the 150 cap. The bikes will have helmets and will be hireable, locked, and unlocked via apps just like the share e-scooters are.

Operators and users will need to demonstrate that the bikes are generally being left in safe, or designated spots, and used in a way that keeps Wellington streets and footpaths as safe as possible, a statement from the local government wrote.

More parking bays for the share scheme and privately-owned bikes and scooters will be installed around the city soon, which will be on the road, not the footpath. Moreover, shared e-bike and e-scooter users will get discounts for leaving their vehicles safely parked in these or other designated locations.

The vehicle providers already warn and sometimes ban repeat offenders for unsafe parking or riding practices. Advances in geo-fencing technology also mean the operators can quickly and easily add more areas where it’s not possible to leave or ride scooters and bikes. The technology also allows them to respond to issues by reducing and controlling the speed bikes and scooters can go in certain locations, the statement explained.

The trial will be evaluated in mid-2023 and considered by Councillors in October. If the trial is successful, the operators will continue to provide the e-bikes through to March 2024 when the existing licences to operate e-scooters comes up for renewal. Auckland, Christchurch, and Hamilton already have e-scooters and e-bikes available.

According to the Committee Chair Councillor, Tamatha Paul, the move is a big part of the city’s transition to a low-carbon transport system. “It is part of the big picture of how we can move more people with fewer vehicles and has synergies with our Paneke Pōneke plan to build a connected citywide bike network,” she noted.

The statement said that data shows that e-bikes are often used by people who don’t use e-scooters. They can be a more appealing option for longer trips, and relatively low complaint levels indicate most people use them in a responsible way. The e-bikes will be available from suburban locations as well as outside the railway station.

The city aims to replace all fossil-fuel-powered passenger vehicles with electric alternatives by 2030. In September, the Wellington City Council added 24 electric vehicles (EVs) to its fleet. As OpenGov Asia reported, by mid-August, there were 40 EVs for staff to use for daily operations. A study by the New Zealand Transport Agency (Waka Kotahi) about Kiwi behaviour showed that on average, people don’t travel more than 20 to 50 kilometres a day. Introducing electric vehicles that are capable of a 250-300 kilometres range in one full charge will be the right match for most Council operations. As Wellington city is compact, there are many opportunities for people to change the way they travel throughout the city and have an impact on carbon emissions.

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