Canberra is experiencing a quiet revolution in micromobility. Many young people are rethinking whether private car ownership is for them. Given the distances many of us travel, we can't imagine walking or cycling the whole way.
In addition to traditional bicycles and e-bikes, we are seeing a range of devices emerging from the very small (electric skateboards and e-scooters) to larger ones that are still smaller than a car (electric-assisted pedal cargo-bikes). These devices can be used for short trips that are just a bit too far or take a bit too long to walk.
Micromobility complements public transport and car share to make city precincts more accessible, extend the public transport catchment and make Canberrans less car dependant.
Shared micromobility is ideal for short, spontaneous and convenient one-way trips without an obligatory return journey. Users book, pay and unlock bikes and scooters using mobile technology and providers manage the fleet using geo-location, making sure that the devices are ready to go, where people need them.
Australian-owned company Airbike continues to operate a dockless bike share service in the central area of Canberra following a six-month trial of dockless bike share in 2018. Airbike is considering adding e-bikes to its fleet.
Following changes to the road rules in December 2019 to allow e-scooters and similar devices to be used in the ACT , Transport Canberra and City Services is currently looking at how to expand bike share to include e-scooters.
How to use bike share
The Airbike smartphone app can be used to locate, book, navigate and park bikes. A number of bike share parking sites have been identified and marked throughout the operating area to allow for convenient collection and drop off of bikes.
Keeping bikes tidy
Bike share works when the operator, the government and the community all work together.
TCCS provides bike share parking and Airbike has all these locations in their user app. Everyone is working together to make sure bikes are where they are needed and not where they are in the way.
Use the identified bike share parking bays if you can. If you must park somewhere else, just use common sense. Just ask yourself 'is it in the way or can the next person use it?'. In particular, consider people with mobility issues or vision impairments when you park the bike.
We have all seen the problems that happened in other cities. Canberrans did a great job making sure they didn’t happen here.
Need some tips about considerate bike share parking?
Dockless bike share is a system of bikes that can be used for short trips anywhere within a designated zone. Bikes are located, booked and unlocked via a user app. Once the journey is complete the user locates a suitable parking location and finishes their trip and locks the bike via the app. The bike is then ready for the next user.
Dockless bike share provides more flexibility than docked systems where bikes need to be returned to a docking station. Dockless bike share schemes have proven a very effective element of integrated transport systems worldwide, providing more flexibility for short trips, in conjunction with public transport.
How can I be a responsible bike share user?
It's easy, when you park your bike, ask yourself 'is it in the way' keeping in mind the impact that it may have on people with mobility issues or vision impairments
Make use of the designated parking areas, or park next to existing bike parking racks.
It's common sense, but here's a few parking tips to keep share bikes organised:
Don't park within a public road, driveway, public/shared path, traffic islands, median strip, and car parking bays (including loading zones, disabled zones etc.).
Don't park across visually impaired pedestrian tactile marks
Do park at least 10m back from the hold-line at any road intersection, roundabout, traffic island or median strip, and pedestrian crossings.
Park 5m away from a bus stop shelter, marker post, steps, ramps, public toilets, building access points etc.
Do park within a designated area when parking at the Civic bus interchange
Do park 1.5m away from any building line / wall that is within a public place
Do park 1.5m away from the road kerb unless it within a designated parking bay
If parking in a public thoroughfare, do make sure there is 2m clearance so people can move through the space
Do always observe street signs and line markings
Why dockless over docking station bikes?
Dockless bike share provides more flexibility, especially in conjunction with public transport compared to docked systems where bikes need to be returned to a docking station.
If it is dockless, why are there bike share parking locations?
Evidence shows when cities provide bike parking, people generally use it, as they do for parking cars, or privately owned bikes. This helps maintain public amenity and community support for bike share.
All the bikes in the Airbike fleet have kickstands, so people should avoid using existing bike racks, but can park bikes next to them.
The ACT Government has provided bike share parking locations across the operating area in central Canberra. These can be located through Airbike's user app or on-ground by looking for the Bike Share signage.
Riding in the Parliamentary Zone or around Lake Burley Griffin? The Airbike app will indicate what existing bike racks should be used when you have finished your journey.
When will shared e-scooters be available in Canberra?
In the first instance, the Guideline for dockless bike share will be updated to include additional issues that are unique to e-scooters.
Why did the ACT Government have a bike share trial?
The ACT Government observed, with interest, the different approaches to bike share in Australian jurisdictions and overseas. We wanted to test to see what works and what doesn’t so that we got it right.
At the end of the trial, the partners in the trial decided that dockless bike share was not disruptive and can offer value to the Canberra community and to visitors alike.
Bike share (and micromobility generally) is an essential part of the ACT Government's goals to be Australia's cycling capital, to achieve zero carbon emissions and to provide opportunities for Canberrans to be active. The ACT Government supports activities that enhance Canberra's culture of active travel.
Who has helped make bike share a success?
The ACT Government works with land managers from the National Capital Authority, the Australian University and Australian-owned, Sydney based company, Airbike. And most importantly, Canberra residents and visitors, who use the system and share their experience. Everyone has contributed to making bike share work in Canberra.
Why did Canberra get bike share when it created such problems in other cities?
Canberra has been watching and learning from the experience in other cities in Australia and overseas. The evidence shows that residents feel a greater sense of ownership of the scheme when cities work cooperatively with providers.
We trialled a model that reflected the needs and preferences of Canberrans, this included the staged introduction of a small fleet of bikes in a small operating area.
Do the bikes get left in trees and did they block footpaths?
Inevitably yes, occasionally some people do the wrong thing, as they do in cars, on buses and with privately owned bikes. However, unlike individually owned bikes that have been abandoned, Airbike's fleet are easily identifiable and traceable through patented 3G technology. Airbike takes a genuine interest in maintaining its fleet and making sure bikes are in good condition and where people need them.
Everyone worked together to educate users to park bikes responsibly and have agreed to strict but achievable recovery times that Airbike must meet for inappropriately placed bikes.
Evidence shows that cities that work cooperatively with providers see less vandalism and irresponsible behaviour. Canberrans are proud of their city and generally did the right thing.
What can the community expect from Airbike if bikes are in unsafe / inappropriate locations?
Nobody, not least Airbike, wants to see bikes left in the wrong place where it may cause injury, reduce access (particularly for people with mobility issues), where it impinges on places of national or cultural significance, is in danger of being damaged, or where it is not being used.
That said, an unused bike doesn't necessarily need moving, it may just be waiting for the next rider. Airbike has agreed to move bikes, within agreed time frames, depending on the level of harm caused. We encourage people to be clear about the harm the bike is causing/ may cause before asking Airbike to relocate it.
Keep in mind that it is in Airbike's interest to have every bike in their small fleet, in good condition, where people can use them. This is the fundamental difference between the Canberra scheme and cities where the number of bikes on the street meant they were not valued by the providers.
What do I do if I see a bike that is damaged or in the wrong place?
Let Airbike know. They will respond within agreed times, depending on the severity of the situation. With a limited number of bikes in service, they want to make sure they are in good condition and where people can use them.
Who collects the bikes? Is this at a cost of taxpayer's money?
Airbike is responsible for monitoring and rebalancing the fleet. Airbike have agreed to terms within a land use permit for the management of the fleet, this includes fines and fees for the retrieval of bikes if Airbike does not meet the response times. Sanctions in the permit are on a cost recovery basis.
What financial contribution is the ACT government making?
The ACT Government has covered the cost of land use regulation, including waiver of the permit fee, and will provide signs for the preferred parking locations. Airbike, as an independent commercial operator, will cover all operational costs, including management of the bicycle fleet and marketing.
What happens when a bike is taken outside the operational zone? Do the wheels just stop suddenly?!
Once a bike leaves the operational zone the Airbike's team is notified and will monitor the location of the bike through their geolocation technology (don't worry, you can keep cycling!). Users are encouraged to bring the bike back into the operational zone so there are adequate numbers, but Airbike will collect them if they are not being used.
Can you take bikes on buses?
Users are discouraged from taking bikes out of the operational zone unless they plan to bring them back in again. With only 200 bikes in the fleet there are not enough for them to be dispersed all over Canberra. If users do take bikes on short bus trips, we ask that no items are left in the baskets - this can obstruct the bus driver's vision and your items can fly out!
How much does it cost to use?
A single trip costs $1.30 for every 30 mins. Your ride time will start after you unlock your bike. The timer will reset once the bike has been locked. Fares are based on the duration you use the bike.
Do I have to wear a helmet and is a helmet provided?
Yes, helmet laws apply equally to people riding share bikes. Airbike provides helmets with each bike. Please remember to secure the helmet using the rear wheel bike lock mechanism at the end of your ride.
What are the features of Airbike’s operation?
The operating area includes the Australian National University, city centre, and the Parliamentary zone
Geolocation of bikes and a defined operating area
Daily rebalancing of bikes
Regulation using land-use permits and a strong cooperative relationship, based on the Guidelines for dockless bike share
Guidelines for dockless bike share
The ACT Government issued Guidelines for dockless bike share to help potential service providers understand local requirements.
The ACT Government will update these guidelines to apply to e-scooters.