Is Melbourne Bicycle Share getting better?Posted: July 7, 2010
Now that Le Tour has started, it’s timely to think about cycling.
And yes, Melbourne Bike Share is getting better (sort of). RACV announced back on 21 June that Melbourne is getting more blue Bixis “with 40 bike stations and 500 bikes commencing roll out this week”.
That clearly reads as additional to the existing ten stations and 100 bikes, and so should give us the full 50 bike stations and 600 bikes that were originally announced.
The new stations are located at New Quay, Bourke Street, Merchant St, Yarra’s Edge, along Elizabeth Street, the Rialto Tower, Southern Cross and Parliament Stations, Lygon Street and the Eye and Ear Hospital. Unfortunately the RACV doesn’t provide a time frame for the roll out but the Melbourne Bike Share map indicates that more than 30 stations are now up and running.
That’s good news, but there’s an alarming piece of information in the press release – the 100 bikes that launched the scheme were rented only 700 times (by 400 renters) in the initial three weeks between 1 June and 21 June.
We know that trips are short because the structure of the tariff punishes long duration rentals mercilessly. So if we assume an average trip duration of 45 minutes, that means each bike was rented, on average, for an hour and three quarters per week.
It seems few Melburnians and few tourists are bothering to give the Bixis a trial. This is not surprising given the way the scheme was hobbled on launch by compulsory helmets, cold and wet weather, a tariff that discouraged tourists and a mere 10 stations set out along the public transport-rich Swanston-Elizabeth St spine.
I felt from the outset that the scheme was misconceived but hopefully the new bikes and more amenable Spring weather will give the scheme a fillip. But consider that Montreal has 5,000 Bixis, 400 stations and no competing trams! Melbourne Bike Share is starting to head towards white elephant status I fear – the time for a rethink could be getting closer.