Canberra's Airbike trial hasn't gone quite as expected so far
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Canberra's Airbike trial hasn't gone quite as expected so far

The head of Canberra's bike-sharing service admitted the take-up of the scheme wasn't as large as predicted, with 1200 people using it during its first month.

Since launching at the start of August, Airbike has had up to 70 people a day join the dockless bike network, with 2000 people registering an account with the service in the first month.

Airbike is operating in Canberra as part of a six-month trial.

Airbike is operating in Canberra as part of a six-month trial.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

As part of the ACT government's six-month trial of the service, 200 dockless bikes have been placed around Canberra, limited to the parliamentary triangle and city centre.

Airbike chief executive Angus McDonald said while the number of people using the bikes wasn't as many as initial estimates, use was increasing.

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"It wasn't the mass adoption that every entrepreneur might have hoped, but we are building on it steadily and we are here to provide an awesome service to the community for the long term," Mr McDonald said.

"More than 1200 people have ridden on the service. The bikes are there to be shared by the community, with over 2000 registered users and 1200 rides, I think this model is right for Canberra."

While no bikes have been dumped in Lake Burley Griffin or placed precariously in trees as seen in Sydney and Melbourne, four bikes were damaged during August.

Three complaints were made in the first month of the trial, including one for a bike parked in the wrong location at the bottom of the War Memorial and another for a bike dumped in someone's front yard.

Mr McDonald said 24 bikes had been ridden outside the trial areas and had to be collected.

"We have had around 100 support messages left through the app for things such as missing lights, helmets, loose chains or app issues such as a technology failure. This is to be expected," he said.

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"Canberrans are, on the whole, supportive and really considerate people who time and again reach out to help."

Among the most population locations for the bikes have been ANU, the Civic interchange and along Lonsdale Street in Braddon.

The highest turnover rate has been outside Fenner Hall at ANU, with bikes never being there for more than 24 hours.

"We find there is a definite spike of use on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night between 10pm and 3am, assumably people getting home to the colleges after a night on the town," Mr McDonald said.

Airbike will meet with government officials on a monthly basis as part of the trial.

Mr McDonald said a key concern was a lack of parking in key locations for the dockless bikes around Canberra landmarks.

"There was a clear and defined need for parking at the Australian War Memorial as this is a place where we want people to go and we want them to park properly," he said.

"We are now discussing to improve parking locations like the war memorial, national museum, botanical gardens and some of the nation's other treasures."

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The government said Airbike could be fined up to $200 if bikes were discovered in places like lakes or heritage areas.

Parking locations on national land, such as the war memorial, would be used through the app, rather than marking out parking areas, according to a Transport Canberra spokeswoman.

The spokeswoman said the Airbike trial had been positive so far and are expecting more people to use the service as the weather warms up.

"Bike share is relatively new to Australia and this trial is providing is with a valuable opportunity to carefully consider the role it can play in our integrated transport network," the spokeswoman said.

Extra parking for the bikes and feedback from the public is expected to be on the agenda when Airbike next meets with the ACT government this week.

Andrew Brown is a journalist at the Sunday Canberra Times. Andrew has worked at the Canberra Times since 2016.