Melbourne Bike Share should be up and running by the end of May, with 10 docking stations and 100 bikes available. Ultimately, the scheme will expand to include 50 stations and 600 bikes.
It will operate on a swipe card system, and riders will be able to opt for daily, weekly or annual subscriptions. There will be no usage fee for the first 30 minutes of each trip.
Bicycle Victoria spokesman Garry Brennan said: “It will change the city for good; it will show everybody what a bike-friendly place Melbourne is.”
But not everyone is welcoming the initiative. Paul Mees, a teacher and researcher in transport planning at Melbourne’s RMITUniversity, said of similar schemes: “They have all failed to make any difference to transport patterns. The only reason Copenhagen kept its scheme is because it’s popular with tourists.”
However, that view is not shared by Canada’s Victoria Transport Policy Institute, which reports that successful public hire systems have resulted in up to eight percent of drivers using bikes instead.
According to the Melbourne Bike Share website, “as of December 2009, there were over 90 programs in approximately 135 cities around the world with an estimated 86,000 bikes on four continents and another 45 programs planned in 22 nations in 2009-2010”.
In Brisbane, CityCycle is to start this year, with 2,000 bikes at 150 stations. The scheme is part of a $100 million investment programme over four years to construct more bikeways, shared pathways, local links and supporting infrastructure.
Some 190 car parking spaces are being removed to house the first 50 docking stations due later this year. The city recently opened four free-to-use lockable bike shelters.
In both Melbourne and Brisbane, cyclists are legally required to wear a helmet. Hopefully these will be available for hire to allow for impromptu bike hire by those who haven’t brought their own.