Bike Sharing Coming to Australia. Soon And Later

Common Bike photo

Why should the rest of the world have all the fun and practicality of a Bike-Share program (see links below) and Australia miss out? It won’t if several new initiatives attract the support they expect.

The Victorian state capital of Melbourne will, from 5 May 2009, have a three week trial with 30 bikes being made available from five locations around the city. Called Common Bike, it is being organised by industrial design students from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) under the tutelage of visitung lecturer Ronald Haverman, who helped establish a similar not-for-profit scheme in the Netherlands. Known as OV-fiets, it now apparently services 60,000 members out of 180 rail stations.The Common Bike concept is seen as a community program returning profits to local businesses, such as bike shops willing to act as hire stations. Membership for the trial is $5 AUD, and $1-2 per trip, plus a little more if you return the bike to a different hub from the one, from which it was first picked-up. In June a forum will be held to gauge the success, or otherwise, of the trial.

The hope is that the trial will further influence the Victorian state government as the value of a bike-share program for the city.

Although at this stage it appears as if the government will be following the model of the Paris' Velib network, whereby a corporate sponsor like the billboard company, JCDecaux, in Paris maintain the system in turn for advertising rights. The version proposed for Melbourne is expected to provide 600 bikes from 50 docking stations.

Though not without their problems, including theft and vandalism, such bike-share schemes do appear to be attracting ongoing interest from metropolises around the globe.

As we noted some time ago, Sydney has also been investigating the Velib model.

It seems, however, that Brisbane, in the state of Queensland will be first in Australia to run such a program, having signed a 20-year contract with JCDecaux this January, which the bikes expected to hits the streets in March 2010. We wonder if they, like the Victorian government have also unfortunately had to factor in a 15% theft ratio.

But until any of these advertising offset models gets going, the Common Bike trial looks the nearest thing Australia will have running, to gauge demand. All the best to those involved. Common Bike, via ::Up Your Jumper

Photo: Common Bike on Flickr. (NB: Representative image only. Not the bicycles that Common Bike will actually employ.)

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