FIVE hundred electric bikes will be deployed around Lake Macquarie in June under a 12-month trial aimed at boosting the area's night-time economy and encouraging residents and tourists to use shared services.
Expected to create 50 jobs, the e-bike trial will be announced on Tuesday by global micro-mobility company Beam, in partnership with Dantia, Lake Macquarie City's economic development arm.
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Dantia chief executive officer Josh Sattler, who played a key part in similar pilot programs in Darwin, said the "pay as you go" e-bike trial would be closely followed by e-scooter trials launched by Transport NSW later in the year.
Mr Sattler said the Lake Macquarie trial was designed to encourage people to think about using e-bikes as a means to take the first one or two kilometres from home to a transport point to get to or from work, and to embrace the "shared services way of thinking".
"It people can start using the e-bikes, it might stop them buying that second car, or perhaps they leave the car behind and use an e-bike to get to work or a local venue," he said.
"There are so many economic, social and environmental benefits associated with it."
Mr Sattler said as businesses "bounced back" after the pandemic and demand rose for e-bikes, it was timely to introduce e-bike platform to make shops and venues more accessible.
"The benefits are a reduction in vehicle congestion and associated carbon emissions and there's a boost to the PM economy across Lake Macquarie," he said.
"Where you usually might drive to dinner, there's an opportunity to take an e-bike and eventually an e-scooter. From trials we did in Darwin, 82 per cent of trips made had a purchase at the front or back end of the trip, so from an economic consumption perspective it's an economic multiplier."
With similar schemes already in place in capitals including Darwin, and Perth, it was "super exciting" that Lake Macquarie was rolling out the "cost-effective" e-bikes and virtual docking stations across the lake.
"We are working now with Beam on maps and where they will be deployed, it is a trial so we won't get it right in the first week or month but by the end you've have it nailed down and they can operate as a successful part of the community," he said.
"This is capital city infrastructure and to have it in Lake Macquarie creates a definite shift, you can do here what you do in Melbourne and other cities."
The app-based Beam service will feature affordable pay-as-you-go rates, 'virtual docking' (parking) and an in-app safety school for rider education.
A public safety day will be held on Saturday, June 4, between 9am and 12 noon at Belmont 16 Footers, when the public can try the e-bikes.
Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser said the trial would increase the "active transport options" in the area: "Demand for e-bikes is growing rapidly, and this trial will help gauge the community's appetite for a pay-as-you-go system, rather than the significant up-front cost of buying your own."
Beam's General Manager (ANZ) Tom Cooper said the company was "thrilled to be piloting Lake Macquarie's first shared micro-mobility trials, and to bring our industry leading e-bikes to the region.
"As micromobility becomes more commonplace in Australia, we believe its usage will only continue to increase exponentially, with more citizens engaging on the streets and leaving their cars behind," he said.
A spokesperson for Dantia said the trial would generate about 50 local jobs, including mechanics, safety advisors, marshalls and operations.
With regards to maps, the "geofencing" is still being finalised and will be announced as in a separate announcement closer to the launch in June.
Monica Zarafu, whose company BYKKO launched its e-bike platform in Newcastle in 2016, said BYKKO was planning to roll out its latest generation of technology in Newcastle and gradually replace its 100 e-bikes fleet with its newest model by the end of this year.
"We will also replace the existing docking stations with our new fast-charging docks for each bike," she said.
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