Riding a bike often gets a bad press. Perhaps because it’s not a mainstream activity (yet), or perhaps because not everyone understands the benefits of more people taking to two wheels, for both riders and non-riders.
Since the arrival of the dockless bike share industry in Australia three months ago, negative stories have been coming thick and fast.
Sadly images of piles of bikes, bikes up trees or even bikes dumped in the water are tainting public perceptions. A few mindless vandals are mucking up bike share for the rest of us.
Simple dockless bike sharing systems are locked and unlocked using customer’s smartphones and don’t require expensive docking stations (which require underground cables and dedicated public space).
And the fact is that the share bikes are popular.
More than 60,000 Sydneysiders have downloaded bike sharing apps. There are more than 2,000 trips on shared bikes across the city each day. That’s a good thing – more people on bikes means more space on public transport and more space on our roads.
We’ve spoken to a mum who picks up a share bike from her son’s school to complete her journey to work, the regular bike commuter who uses a share bike while his own wheels are in for a tune up, and the city worker who trialled a share bike for a few weeks before buying her own bicycle.
The City’s online guidelines for bike share operators have been shared widely, and viewed by more than 12,500 people. Here at the City of Sydney we are committed to striking a balance between getting more people riding bikes for transport and the fair use of public space.
We are in regular contact with operators and have found them to be responsive to public queries and complaints.
It’s human nature to fear the new and different. We need to reframe bike share in Sydney – share bikes are not clutter or abandoned, they are a means of transport available for anyone to use. And the bikes you see up trees and in ponds did not ride themselves there. They’ve been vandalised by people who are breaking the law.
What can you do? If you see a share bike fallen over or obstructing a footpath, and you have a moment, why not set it right? Every show of civic pride in this brave new world of bike share will help.
From Milan to Manchester, from Shanghai to Sydney, people around the world are enjoying dockless bike sharing. While there are teething problems everywhere, the benefits for everyone far outweigh the actions of a few vandals.
But hey, that doesn’t make a good news story does it?