After months of fundraising, meticulous planning and old fashioned hard work, the Christchurch Community Bike Share Scheme, AKA Spark Bikes, finally hit the road today.
Local Christchurch entrepreneur Rob Henderson, the brains behind the project, was joined by key supporter Spark and Hon. Lianne Dalziel, Mayor of Christchurch to officially launch Spark Bikes with a “Tour de Christchurch” fun ride down Worcester Boulevard.
The bike share system has five bike stations set at key locations around Christchurch City – Victoria Street, the Arts Centre, Gloucester Street, the Re:Start Mall and Epic on Tuam Street. Like similar schemes in London and Paris, people can pick up a bike from a station after registering online and use it to get around the city.
The once-in-a-lifetime chance for innovation as the city rebuilds, combined with Christchurch’s flat landscape, gave Henderson the idea for the scheme: “I’d seen the systems overseas and thought it would be a great idea for Christchurch. People were talking about how we could use this opportunity to build a more accessible city, and we were also conscious that as the city reopened, fragments of it were still disconnected. A public bike share scheme was the perfect solution."
Spark jumped on board with the idea a year ago after Henderson approached the company with his vision. Henderson then crowd-funded a portion of the project, with donations coming from many locals and as far afield as Canada and America.
Paul Deavoll, Head of South Island for Spark says, “One of the things you can achieve when you rebuild a city is you get to think again about how you want the plan to look – we have new open spaces in a new design. You can put thought into making the city more accessible. This is exactly why we need people like Rob, to help make this vision a reality.
“Rob is a great guy – he’s an innovator. In a city like Christchurch, that’s what we need – people who are thinking differently about the city, someone who wants to do something awesome. His vision fitted so well with Spark’s mission to unleash the potential of all New Zealanders.
“Spark is focussed on using technology to enable people to do really exciting things. Rob’s bike share scheme is a great example of how technology can help us build a world class accessible city. It’s a perfect fit with us.”
Hon. Lianne Dalziel, Mayor of Christchurch, says “as we rebuild Christchurch into a world-class city, we have the opportunity to spearhead real change and lead the way in building a city that is innovative and brings people together in strong community. Rob’s bike share scheme is a great way of helping to make that happen – it will enliven the city, make it more accessible, and it will bring people together.”
How it works
Users of Spark Bikes can register online at sparkbikes.co.nz. They can then log in at any station, grab a bike and go for a ride. Each station contains a map highlighting local attractions and free WiFi spots and each bike comes with its own helmet and combination lock. The first thirty minutes are free, with a $4 charge for every half hour after that. There is also a one-off $4 registration fee when people first sign up.
The bikes are designed for people of all skill levels – whether you’re commuting to work in high heels or a suit, or you’re a tourist enjoying the outdoors and exploring Christchurch.
The bike share scheme will not only connect various parts of the city but will also provide a fun, active way for people in the city to connect with each other. In doing so, the initiative is set to support Christchurch in leading the way as an eco city and a place of strong community and thriving business.