Tenants of a new community housing development in south Christchurch are set to benefit from an innovative onsite e-bike and electric car share scheme.

The Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust (ŌCHT) is going to offer tenants at its new 90-home Brougham Street development in Sydenham access to two Nissan Leaf cars and five electric bikes in a two-year pilot to see how shared, low carbon transport can work for a social housing community.

The pilot project is being run in partnership with Canterbury, Lincoln and Otago Universities.

Lincoln University researcher Helen Fitt says the project has some far-reaching aims. 

“The ultimate goal of the research is to help New Zealand design better homes for happy and healthy New Zealanders,” she says. 

“But in the shorter term we want to work out how to make it easier for OCHT’s tenants to get around and do the things they need to do and want to do.” 

The e-bikes can be used for free but there will be a nominal charge for the electric cars to help cover the cost of their maintenance, management and replacement.

ŌCHT chief executive Cate Kearney says the trust knows that good, reliable and low-cost transport is vital to help low income people get to services across the city.

“We also know we must do what we can to find ways to sustainably reduce our carbon footprint while making community life better,’’ she says.

The project is the first of its kind in the country and could influence the way other communities are designed. 

ŌCHT commercial and development manager Ed Leeson says the project’s booking platform will gather data to establish demand patterns, feedback and user engagement. This will help ŌCHT consider how low carbon, shared transport might be applied elsewhere and even how it might affect new developments.

“We’d love to know we can reduce the number of car parks we provide, with alternatives that let us replace asphalt with green spaces,” Mr Leeson says.

If successful, the project will be rolled out to other ŌCHT properties and its benefits will be promoted to other community housing providers in New Zealand.

Find out more about the Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust.