If you venture into the CBD at all you couldn’t help but notice a Next Bike. They congregate in little groups, waiting patiently for their owners like labradors chained outside the pub.Â I love seeing bikes around town, they add life to a city and with their swoopy curves and advertising these ones certainly catch the eye.
At the recent 350 Big Bike Fix Up in the Viaduct I got the opportunity to try one for free without having to register. The first 30 minutes are free anyway but I have to admit the registration process had put me off in the past. One more company with my credit-card and mobile numbers and no doubt another password to remember. I’d been wanting to give them a go since hearing the system was expanding over the harbour to Takapuna, Smales Farm, the AUT campus and the Akoranga Busway station.
The bikes are designed in Germany and are an eclectic blend of American cruiser styling with European city-bike functionality. The riding position is comfortable with nice high handlebars and a comfy sprung saddle. You sit fairly upright with a good view all around and a nice straight back. The greasy bits are safely tucked away behind chain-guards and fenders and there’s a convenient basket up front to carry your briefcase, handbag or Labrador puppy.
They are obviously built tough for life out on the streets but didn’t ride like a heavy bike. The 3-speeds available were fine for zipping across the viaduct and around downtown as I did. Once registered I’ll tackle some of the hills on my side of the bridge and see if the pick-up and drop-off routines are as easy as promised.
Livable Cities is a term that’s been bandied about a bit lately, I’m not even sure quite what that means. What I do know is that more trips by bike makes for a better city, a cleaner city and a more human city. Public bike rental schemes have a part to play in that and I wish Next Bike well.