By Claire Matthews
Brisbane residents will soon be able to cycle through the city more easily with the launch of a new e-bike rental service.
Brisbane City Council announced today that the CityCycle service would be phased out and discontinued in 2021, to be replaced by electronic bikes.
Public and Active Transport Chair Ryan Murphy said the new initiative is a result of increased cycling demand due to COVID-19.
“On the Bicentennial Bikeway, ridership is up by 50%. Across the city, there are 60% more people riding on their bikes than this time last year. We want to encourage them to do so by making a world-class public bike hire scheme available in Brisbane for residents and visitors.”
E-Mobility expert Jake Whitehead from the University of Queensland said the new scheme would modernise Brisbane’s transport systems and reduce congestion on roads.
“I think it’s really exciting to see this advance in e-bikes and so many different types of active transpire around the city, to ultimately get less people in cars, less congestion and less pollution. So this is a great step in modernising those transport systems.”
The introduction of e-bikes to Brisbane is inspired by the popularity of the current e-scooter hire schemes, said Cr Murphy.
“More and more, technology is evolving, and people are turning to electric solutions rather than pedal power alone. We’ve had e-scooters in our city now for nearly two years, and in that time, there and a half million trips have been taken on e-scooters.”
Bicycle Queensland CEO Rebecca Randazzo said the safety of riders, pedestrians and motorists will be taken into critical consideration.
“We know from COVID-19 that with an increase in both walking and cycling, we saw an increase in conflict. Bicycle Queensland got on the front foot and provided signage and education around that to try and manage those conflicts. I think there are behaviour campaigns we can certainly run, but the benefits outweigh the negatives.”
Ms Randazzo said they would implement a helmet hire scheme and set speed limits for the e-bikes.
“Helmets are really important for great safety outcomes. And, so are speed limits. So we would be making sure the e-bikes aren’t going too fast, and that comes back to shared pathways and how we are going to share that space. E-bikes will be limited to 25 km/hr.”
Ms Randazzo said Bicycle Queensland is striving to make the program affordable.
“In terms of cost, that is something Bicycle Queensland is considering, how we are going to make that affordable… E-bikes are usually quite expensive to buy, so this is an opportunity for potential bike riders to try an e-bike.”
Cr Murphy said CityCycle would be gradually phased out at no cost to ratepayers.
“The decommissioning of the CityCycle scheme will start in January next year. Subscriptions will end and become free. By November 2021, all 2000 CityCycles will be removed from service and 150 CityCycle stations will be converted to eco-mobility hubs, which will serve as a docking location for e-scooters and e-bikes.”
“Council has been able to reach an agreement with CityCycle operator JCDecaux at no cost to Brisbane rate-payers. And, importantly, the new e-bike and e-scooter operators that will enter service from July next year, they will generate a revenue stream to Council. So today we are announcing that Council will commence a tender process to bring 2000 e-bikes to Brisbane by July next year.”
The e-bike scheme has the potential to attract tourists and income to Brisbane next year, said Ms Randazzo.
“So we’re really excited about the opportunity that brings potential bike riders to Brisbane and may even attract interstate residents. One of the reasons I moved back to Brisbane was for the liveability and the lifestyle, and I think it’s a great idea that potentially opens it up for active travel.”