Bike hire scheme for Wellington

It will be different spokes for different folks, with a new bike-hire scheme to be introduced in Wellington.

Nextbike, based in Auckland, will hire out 100 custom-built bikes from up to 20 sites in central Wellington from October to May.

Nextbike boss Julian Hulls said the German-designed, Chinese-built cycles would be ideal for tourists to move around Wellington during the Rugby World Cup. They could also be used on the great rides cycling project championed by Prime Minister John Key.

"They [hire bikes] are a missing piece of the puzzle really."

The bikes have three gears, mud and chain guards, a luggage basket, and upright seat. "You don't want something that you have to wear [spandex] to use. It is nice and easy to ride."

Safety helmets, which must be worn, are permanently attached to each bike.

The bikes are not sold in shops, which Mr Hulls said would eliminate the resale of cycles stolen by unscrupulous riders.

Nextbike, a standalone company with ties to a German firm, has the rights to use the bike hire technology in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific.

It was introduced in Auckland last year with 70 bikes for hire.

Users activate the bike rental system by registering their credit card details from their mobile phone. Whenever the phone is subsequently used, a computer instantly recognises the number.

To hire a bike, the user dials in a registration number found on the bike frame. A number to unlock the bike is then provided by voice and text message.

Hire charges start at $4 an hour but the first 30 minutes is free. The rental is charged to the user's credit card.

Wellington City Council's transport safety manager Paul Barker said an agreement had been reached in principle to allow the scheme to go ahead.

"We will get the licence agreement signed shortly."

The council would not fund the project directly but would provide tubular steel racks where the bikes could be picked up and dropped off.

Mr Hulls said the start of the Wellington service would coincide with introducing the scheme in Christchurch. More than 60 countries run similar schemes.

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I hired one of these in Auckland. With 3 speeds you can just get by on the hills. It was convenient, cheap and fun. They make most of their revenue from selling ad space on the bikes. And WCC will put in new bike stands in CBD. I think the increased visibility of cycling will be a significant benefit.

I've also used the Auckland service and would echo Pat's comments. The bike I used needed a bit of maintenance, but there's a pretty good system for reporting faults.

I'm not sure how much the existing bikes get used, and it'll be interesting to see how they do in Wellington.

Robert Ibell
04-972 2552

Just curious how the safety helmet "permanently attached to each bike" works? I'm trying to envisage a retractable cord of some kind that wouldn't get in the way or bug the hell out of you? Or do they just mean that they somehow get locked with the bike on return?

The helmet has a wire loop attached which is threaded through the bike lock. Luckily they provide a basket on the front of the bike which is big enough to stow the helmet when not in use...