May 31, 2011
Source: The Age – Victoria
One year since its launch the Melbourne bike share scheme has failed to gain traction with rider numbers falling short of expectations.
A key bicycle group says awkward pick-up points and a wet summer are among the problems to have dampened enthusiasm for the Melbourne Bike Share.
Compulsory helmet laws added to the project’s woes with riders forced to bring a helmet or buy one before hiring a bike.
Bicycle Victoria spokesman Garry Brennan said support for the scheme was disappointing.
“I think that we didn’t expect a spectacular uptake because the numbers of bike stations are limited,” Mr Brennan said.
“For the limited number of stations that are available it’s still disappointing.”
The scheme, which allows cyclists to hire bikes from stands across the city, has been plagued with problems since it was introduced.
Mr Brennan said car parking on main roads should be converted into bike docking stations.
Earlier this month the City of Melbourne revealed plans to provide on-street bicycle parking in “high demand locations”.
According to the council’s latest draft transport strategy, better bicycle parking would help to increase rider numbers.
Cyclists can hire about 600 bikes from 50 docking stations across the city and inner suburbs.
Riders must pay a $50 annual subscription, a weekly or a daily fee to hire the bicycles.
The first 30 minutes are free for subscribers.
RACV general manager of motoring and mobility, Gordon Oakley, said he expected the number of trips to reach 25,000 a month in the scheme’s second year.
He said riders were making up to 13,000 trips a month compared with about 8500 in December.
But riders need to make about 15,000 trips a month for the scheme to break even.
Mr Oakley said the scheme had failed to attract some groups of cyclists.
“We know that most of our regular users are in fact business people,” he said. “We actually thought we’d do better with students than we have.”
In opposition, Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said Melbourne Bike Share was becoming a “white elephant”.
The Age is seeking comment from Mr Mulder.