Airbike, a new bike sharing platform, was launched at ANU yesterday for a six month trial. The trial will offer dockless bike sharing on campus, in the city centre, and in the Parliamentary Zone.
The platform, which is accessed through an app, will initially offer bike hire for $1.30 per half hour. Airbike CEO Angus McDonald told Observer that there are plans to offer a semesterly subscription for $30-$40. 200 bikes are currently available for use, with available bikes’ locations visible in the app. All new accounts will receive three vouchers for free half-hour rides.
The bikes are tracked through geotracking devices in the lock. They can be unlocked remotely through the app by scanning a QR code on the bike. McDonald has previously stated that Airbike does not track users’ locations, with the exception of confirming that users are in the same place as the bike they are trying to unlock.
The bikes are paired with helmets, which users will attach to the locks when parked. “To be honest, most people won’t wear a helmet,” McDonald admitted. Nevertheless, riders without helmets in the ACT may be fined up to $146, although the ACT Road Safety Minister is currently in the process of reviewing helmet laws. The bikes also have a front basket, and a phone holder on the handlebar.
McDonald was optimistic that the bikes would be well-treated. When asked if there was a possibility if any of the bikes could end up alongside the trolleys in Sullivan’s Creek, he told Observer that if it happens, “we’re here to respond when it does”, but given that “ANU students are pretty well educated”, he doubted it would be a major issue. In response to the same question, ANU Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt said he had “asked the same questions”. He claimed the company “have some strategies” but said he could not give a “specific answer”. A staff member from ANU Security clarified, “They have a policy of collecting bikes that end up in strange areas … we’ll see what happens with the first 100 bikes.”
McDonald confirmed that Airbike personnel will be on hand to retrieve bikes dumped in remote locations. An ANU spokesperson urged users to be “mindful” where they left their bikes, “so they do not cause a disturbance or inconvenience for the public”, preferably alongside existing bicycle hoops or in similar areas.
The bike sharing project has come about as a collaboration between ANU, the ACT Government, and the National Capital Authority, with Airbike as the provider. Airbike is a student startup that has previously operated at the University of Sydney and provided software to other bike share programmes.
The trial will be reviewed after six months. McDonald told Observer that a successful result would be approximately one rider per bike per day.
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