Canberra trials new city mobility option: e-bike sharing

An apartment building in a Canberra suburb is the stage for what has been referred to as Australia's first electric bike sharing program trial involving a residential building.

In a piece appearing in the Newcastle Herald, Bykko founder and managing director Monica Zarafu outlined the program, its compatibility with city mobility and the potential for drawing more people into bike commuting and touring. Bykko and developer Art Group partnered to offer 10 electric bikes for tenants of the apartment building to use free of charge for one year.

The Bykko program includes an integrated charging and locking system, single-swipe checkout and a convenient web app platform. The bikes have a range of 50 km per day and top speed is 25 kmh.

The Newcastle-based company ran a three-month test of the e-bike program West End. Zarafu described the trial as an "unqualified success" and that riders asked that more stations be deployed in the city.

She offered several reasons for why she sees e-bikes as a good fit for urban environments. Using Newcastle as an example, she explained that with current light-rail construction and the addition of an inner city university, they would offer residents a convenient way to negotiate the city. And the e-bikes provide power-assist with their electric motors, a feature that makes an enjoyable way to travel "suitable for people of all fitness and ability levels." In addition to providing health benefits for more people, the e-bike stations also help the city reduce its carbon footprint, Zarafu said.

As she explained in the article, "Newcastle too has instigated a smart city strategy, and a digitally-enabled e-bike share network integrated with public transport infrastructure would provide valuable data to plan and build this smart city."

Doug Peeples is a writer specialising in technology and energy. Follow @smartcitiesanz on Twitter.