NextBike Good Idea But No-one Gets It


All around Auckland, there are bike stands like this with bikes chained to them.

NextBike won the support of ARTA as an official sponsor, and anything to encourage people to cycle around the city is laudable.

But everytime I pass a cycle rack, I hear people say: “What’s that about?”

The marketing for the plan has missed out an essential part of the plan - explaining what this is and how it works.

Because the bikes are covered in advertising, i hear people assume it’s some bike courtier type company or something related to the sponsors.

No-one has picked up how it works as , to get the only explanation, you have to peer at one of the bikes to find the cost and the fact you need to ring.

Then what? I’ve explained it to people I have overheard ask and I know about it only because I wrote about the Nextbike sponsorship back in October.

Nextbike scheme “allows customers to register their phone number and credit card to hire bicycles and to pick them up and drop them off at various locations around the city.”

Riders call from their registered phone and enter the code on the back of the bike to get the current lock code the bike and helmet to get them on their way.  It’s based on similar systems in cities like Germany and Austria, to encourage locals to choose cycling as an option to get to work, school and to leisure activities.

The NextBike site is here

I have yet to see any bike missing from the cycle rack or anyone riding one.

I do hope the scheme succeeds.

But it won’t if there’s not a clear sign showing how it works. Otherwise people will continue to walk by and ask what it is about or contemplate how easy they would be to steal!

Related Posts

  1. Official Support For Cycling As Part of Mix
  2. NZTA To Encourage Auckland Motorists To Bike To Work Instead!
  3. City Businesses To Fight Shared Space Idea
  4. Cycle Ride & Park At New Newmarket
  5. Parnell Train Station Idea Picks Up Urgent Pace




  1. Su Yin Khoo says:

    Unity from Auckland Cycle Chic has spotted a number of people using it—mostly tourists. I have seen one or two myself.

    One commentator mentioned having to share the helmets akin to ‘wearing a used condom on your head’ and now I can’t get the picture out of mine.

  2. George Darroch says:

    It’s a pity they’re not quite Velib or Bicing. But it’s a good start.

    The helmet issue needs to be sorted out in New Zealand, but I don’t see the law being repealed any time soon unfortunately.

  3. Christopher Dempsey says:

    I know a little about the scheme if only because I professionally know the owner of the company operating the scheme.

    For what it’s worth, apparently people do use the bikes, and apparently more so since the free half hour scheme came in - you can ride the bike for free for 30 mins (after registering etc).

    Apparently enterprising folk are riding into Queen St from Mt Eden and Dominion Rd, then riding home at night. All for free (except for the energy riding uphill, but as I’ve discovered, there’s NO LAW that says you have to ride uphill. One can walk their bike uphill if one feels like doing so).

  4. Richard says:

    The helmet nonsense is the real problem. We are forced to wear helmets and to be of any use they should fit properly or they can in fact cause injury. They are not true crash helmets at all but lightweight vented polystyrene hats. Proper helmets are impossible to wear on a bike for obvious reasons

    Do the hire company wash the insides of the helmets after each use? After a ride the pads in mine are soaked with sweat. I am now on my fifth helmet and still have to use one that is comfortable, particularly on a hot day.

    I fail to see how you can have a one fits all helmet with the bikes and overseas this could lay you open for contributory damages in a head injury case.

    Also our city roads in many places unlike overseas cities do not have the streets marked in a user friendly manner for cycling

  5. Stranded on the North Shore says:

    Looks like I’m the only one here so far that has used the service. It’s great, it really works and I use it on the free one-way rides from top of Symonds Street to Britomart - all the way down! They definitely missed the point with the advertising (instead of putting big MAXX text over it, they should put “RENT ME” text.. d’oh), the renting process and the website still can be improved, but overall this is a great addition to “Public Transport”. But people will always complain, as you see - now, helmet is the problem!!! The helmets on bikes I’ve ridden didn’t have pads, and after being in the sun and rain for prolonged periods, I don’t mind wearing them at all.

  6. Luke says:

    I saw these in Auckland last week. But I only knew what they were because I had seen them operating successfully in German and Austria a few months ago. And then I was able to figure out what they were without even knowing the language. The phone number displayed prominently made it obvious with no silly advertising obscuring the purpose. Interestingly the bikes were run by DB, the German railways.

  7. simon says:

    I think the major problems with these bikes are:

    1. Gross shared helmets.

    2. The price. $4 for an hour, or $16 for a day? The latter is more than petrol and parking for a day!

  8. Karsten says:

    I think it’s a great thing for Auckland. There would be four or five other important measures that spring to mind, like bike racks, more cycle lanes, cycle access to the North Shore, lower speed limit etc, but this is nice and welcome. I bet it is successful because it doesn’t cost the ARTA much, and they don’t have to deal with government, NZTA and car lobbyists.

  9. rtc says:

    I think such schemes put bikes on the streets and in people’s faces and even if it’s just tourists at first that already more bikes on the streets than before which once again leads to greater visibility and hopefully it’s a feedback loop to increased facilities.

  10. Su Yin Khoo says:

    @Simon: $16/day is cheap compared to places like Pier Bike Hire who are charging $30/day. In Wellington, it’s minimum $50/day. But yes, they can be cheaper and this will only happen when there is a massive uptake of this service.

    And oh, I don’t know … do you ever feel happy driving in Auckland traffic?

  11. I think the bike-share system is a good idea but there are definitely problems with letting people know how it works and then being able to actually do it. I tried last year to join up and the web bit seemed to go ok but then the txting bit was a disaster and I just couldn’t seem to get hold of a real person to help -just kept going round and round with multi-choice automated messages! This year I have joined up again but haven’t yet broached the txting bit - one of the problems is that the central city is quite noisy and listening to the automated instruction with a busker knocking out ‘My Way’ behind you is somewhat challenging!

    I too think the helmet law is a total disaster for NZ (I have written a post about the irrationality of the specifics at

    There are also some very interesting comments about the bike share on my Bike-share post

  12. Max Robitzsch says:

    “The phone number displayed prominently made it obvious with no silly advertising obscuring the purpose.”

    Uhm, gents, the advertising pays about half the bike’s upkeep. They wouldn’t be there without it.

    And it’s a bit harsh to expect a small 2 person company to fund huge advertising campaigns for their system.

    As for usage, Julian (who owns the company) is reporting they get used well, more than he had expected in his business plan. Mostly tourists, but I do use them for short trips (ahlf hour free is nice) as well.

  13. Jon C says:

    I love what is being done here and want it to succeed. I am sure we all do.
    the point I am making is that whether you like or not, locals go past or mention they don’t know how the idea works and even the fact it’s a bike hire place. All that’s required is a sign attached to the bike stand saying Hire a bike and heres how it works.
    The advertising sponsorship is not a criticism.
    It is just that the only place to find any information is around where the sponsorship is so it’s not in people’s face.
    Marketing 101 is to actually tell people what the product is all about.
    I respectfully suggest it needs one more step.
    Tourists may have seen it elsewhere and get it.
    I have certainly spoken to locals who would have hired the bikes if they have know what to do and the terms and conditions.

  14. Max Robitzsch says:

    “All that’s required is a sign attached to the bike stand saying Hire a bike and heres how it works.”

    They do have them. For example at the northern end of the Olmypic Pools, there is just such a sign.

    “I respectfully suggest it needs one more step.”

    I might point Julian at this discussion, see what he thinks…

  15. Jon C says:

    @Max, it’s not my money so it’s up to them if they are on to a winning idea but are happy so many customers walk past muttering they don’t know what it’s about and how it works.
    Good luck to them. Hope I’m wrong.

  16. Max Robitzsch says:

    “@Max, it’s not my money so it’s up to them if they are on to a winning idea but are happy so many customers walk past muttering they don’t know what it’s about and how it works.
    Good luck to them. Hope I’m wrong.”

    As I told you - I do not disagree with you on what you are saying. But A) they need the space on the bikes primarily for advertising - making the procedure the main thing would clearly lose them that.

    B) it isn’t easy to get Council permission to stick up explanatory “road signs” everywhere (they have permission to put them up in a few places, as I mentioned - but I understand getting those agreements for spaces to be allowed to put their bikes in was like pulling teeth - since then they have at least gotten the transport people at Council more onboard, and have spread to many other places with the bikes themselves). But hush! because technically they don’t have permission for a few of those other spots.

  17. Jon C says:

    @Max I’m amazed they have got this far. With authorities so nuts about having anything on the pavements (forever chasing shops about sandwich boards etc), they have done very well and I love what they are doing.
    I, like you and them, just want it to be successful and I wish them well.
    Hopefully the post has helped readers who didn’t get it, now be better informed and want to try it.

  18. Max Robitzsch says:

    It is, in fact, not too hard at all, and once you have the hang of it, you can rent one in about a minute or two max (from walking up to riding away).

    The procedure explained here:

  19. Julian Hulls says:

    Hi Jon
    Thanks for taking the time to write an article about us, greatly appreciated. Your correct explaining the system is a constant battle and one I could go broke trying to do.
    The best explanation for new customers is this page
    Like so many things we do for the first time, the first attempt is the hardest, but it does get easier from their.
    With this in mind can I offer your readers a FREE day of riding on a Nextbike.
    Register a phone number and credit card at and then enter this code 380380 into your newly created account to get $16 credit. Valid till end February 2010. Their are 10 days in total for your readers.
    It’d be great to hear their feedback.
    Julian Hulls

  20. Alan Preston says:

    Australian documentary maker Mike Rubbo has been making an interesting series of videos on how helmets are affecting attempts in Australia to set up bike hire schemes.
    Check this one out on YouTube:

    ALan Preston in Mangawhai


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