e-Bike suppliers are invited to participate in a City of Sydney pilot program to make electric bikes more readily accessible to residents in the municipality’s Green Square area.
“The City of Sydney is seeking to trial a panel of businesses who can provide e-bikes for Green Square residents to experience riding,” the council’s Manager Cycling Strategy, Fiona Campbell, said.
She said the behaviour change program, to be conducted from April to June, sought to encourage more Green Square residents to cycle to commute. While the district is ideally suited to active transport, with high density living and its close proximity to the CBD, bike ownership rates in Green Square are lower than in other parts of Sydney.
City of Sydney is partnering with Transport for NSW for the project, which proposes to make e-bikes available for lease, including servicing, with the council covering the cost for one month.
Residents would then have the option to purchase or continue to lease the bike.
“With this program, we are trying to address as many gaps as possible that might affect residents’ capacity, opportunity and motivation, and to get them to try riding”
“We are open to other models or variations on the theme, as long as the objective is to provide an attractive initial and transition offering, in order to encourage Green Square residents to ride,” Fiona said.
She said while bike ownership rates are low, Green Square already has relatively high levels of cycle commuting. According to the 2016 Census, around 9% of its residents cycle to work, compared to less than 1% of residents in greater Sydney.
Easy Solution for Transport Challenges
However, the program sought to increase Green Square cycling levels even further to address other transport challenges in the area.
“The buses that go through the area are often full by the time they reach Green Square – or at least they were before COVID,” Fiona explained.
“Trains servicing the area are also at capacity during peak times and stations are quite a walk from where a lot of the housing is.
“Similarly, the roads are completely jammed because it’s right between Sydney Airport and the city centre. They are filled with freight and they don’t have more capacity.”
Transport for NSW and City of Sydney have been working together for a number of years to address the transport problems in Green Square.
They found bike commuting is a comparatively easy solution, in an area that is ideal for active transport.
Green Square is only a handful of kilometres from the CBD, it’s flat, and it’s only a short distance from the University of NSW, which is the second largest generator of trips from the area.
In addition, City of Sydney has implemented a considerable amount of cycling infrastructure in the area, including two separated cycling routes between Green Square and the city.
One follows Bourke Street and is being extended by three blocks to the south to connect with other cycleways in Green Square.
The other runs along George Street and links to Central Station.
They are being complemented by a number of additional cross routes being established by the council.
Boost Need for Infrastructure Awareness
However, many local residents were not aware of the infrastructure.
“We’ve previously done some work where we had conversations with over 500 people at Green Square bus stops, waiting to travel to the university or city, as they watched full buses go past, one after another. We’ve asked them about their current modes of transport, how they’ve found them, their frustrations and their barriers to cycling,” Fiona said.
“The one thing they regularly say is there’s no infrastructure for safe cycling and they ‘wouldn’t ride on this road’.
“In response, we say ‘look at your feet and you can see the shared path markings and just up there it connects to a cycleway that takes you into the city’. But they just don’t know about it.”
This project aims to build on Green Square’s cycle-friendly strengths and encourage behaviour change to get more Green Square residents on bikes.
“We think there’s so much potential there and we expect a high uptake,” she said.
“There are three aspects that need to be covered to achieve the behavioural change that will get residents over the line and on a bike.
“The first is capability: physical capability such as the ability to ride a bike, and psychological capability, for example, knowing where the bike routes are.
“The second is opportunity, such as access to a bike and safe cycling infrastructure.
“The third is motivation, which can be influenced by what people see others doing, and what the people around them think.
“With this program, we are trying to address as many gaps as possible that might affect residents’ capacity, opportunity and motivation, and to get them to try riding.”
She said the lease program would be backed by a variety of activities, including:
- free bike tune-ups and bike maintenance workshops
- cycling courses and guided tours
- information campaigns and cycling maps highlighting cycling infrastructure
- car share incentives
Fiona said Transport for NSW is particularly keen to learn from the project to see how the initiative can be adapted to other locations.
Just the Beginning
“It’s definitely the start of something bigger. Part of this project is to be able to measure how well it goes and get feedback from the community, and we will rely on bike companies to help with that,” she said.
“That will assist us to put the case to other businesses and to other growth areas to consider similar projects.
“And we would hope businesses would see great benefits in being involved and would be keen to do more of these activities themselves.
“If a business thinks it’s unable to assist with an e-bike lease program but can get involved in another way that would help from a behavioural change point of view, I’m very interested to hear their ideas.”
Interested businesses can contact Fiona Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details or to discuss, by COB Monday 11th April.