NEWCASTLE electric bike sharing business Bykko will operate for at least another six months after securing an extension of its trial from Transport for NSW.
The business celebrated six months since the launch of its trial last week and is now pressing ahead for an anticipated surge in users as summer takes hold.
The trial, which was secured on a 24-month tender subject to six-monthly approvals, began in May – at a time of the year when many people’s bikes are put into storage for the colder months of the year.
And while launching then may have been seen as odd, Bykko managing director Monica Zarafu believes it allowed the time to perfect the system.
She says the launch, which coincided with light rail works and the removal of hundreds of car parks in the city, was a great opportunity for the business as it helped present the viable “option” of bike sharing.
“I was really impressed with how the community embraced the program, because before there was a lot of concerns whether the community would take on and enjoy the system,” she said.
“But overall it was a really good start and now because more people know about the system, and as we move into summer and the holiday season, I’m sure the numbers will grow.”
Bykko has more than 3000 registered users, and in its first six months delivered more than 6000 trips.
About 90 per cent of the bikes’ users have been Novocastrians, and casual hire so far proves more popular than registered paying members.
Holiday months have enticed more one-off users, and the bikes have proven popular with parents who do not have a bike, but wish to ride with their kids who do.
Ms Zarafu was pleased 42 per cent of trips had been taken by women, as research showed they made up 25 per cent of cyclists nationally.
Students, including international, are offered concessions, along with seniors.
The system is yet to be incorporated with Opal cards due to security measures, but it is being considered.
Bykko has 19 charging stations, but no one station has proved more popular than the others.
“It’s from Wickham to Nobbys, and then we have a few stations around Bar Beach, The Junction and Merewether,” she said.
“You need to return the bike to a docking station, but you have a map [online] so you can see how many bikes and docks are available.
“In the city, you have a station every 500 metres, so if you don’t find a bike, you can find one at the next station.
“You can book a bike also if you want to be sure the bike is there for you.”
Mark Jackson uses Bykko every second day with his monthly membership, taking a bike form his nearest station of Merewether.
“I use it to go into town for work meetings and for recreation,” he said.
“As far as parking and traffic goes, it’s not that accessible anymore.
“[Bykko] has really opened up Newcastle for me.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.