Imagine being able to hire a bicycle to get from one point to another before dropping it off again and being able to continue with your business. Cape Town could soon join major cities such as London, New York and Paris in offering this exciting and innovative mobility option for residents and visitors.
At the beginning of July, Transport for Cape Town - the City of Cape Town's newly established transport authority - launched a study to consider the feasibility of creating such a bicycle share programme in the centre of the city.
It would involve a network of publicly available bicycles in defined areas of the central city where people can hire them at affordable rates and are able to return them to any other defined location in the network. It will also capitalise on Cape Town's expanding cycle lane network.
"Bike riding and non-motorised transport are important aspects of the vision of an integrated public transport network across the city, providing local connections and helping to make Cape Town a 'liveable city'," says Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron.
"Cities around the world are beginning to identify bike-sharing as a mode of public transport, providing an alternative to individual vehicle trips."
The benefits of a bike-share scheme are numerous, and include improved health and well-being; improved mobility and access for residents; improved connectivity between transport modes; an affordable alternative to cars and other forms of public transport; increased retail exposure and activity; a reduction in parking and traffic congestion as well as fewer carbon emissions.
The feasibility study is expected to take several months and will consider various aspects such as financial and operating structures as well as learning from and implementing best practice from other cities with similar schemes such as London's Barclays Bikes, Paris's Velib and Washington DC's Capital Bikes. However, Herron points out that Cape Town has vastly different socio-economic circumstances to these cities, and "we need an operating model that will work here".
The study will also consider whether to use a smartcard payment system, such as the myconnect card currently used for MyCiTi buses.