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Blue bikes scrapped ... what next?

01 Oct 2019

Blue bikes scrapped ... what next? Image

By David Schout

After the state government’s decision to scrap the blue bikes scheme, there will soon be no casual cycling options in Docklands.

Just over a year since share bike company oBike packed its bags, the joint state government and RACV blue bike initiative will be removed on November 30 after it found the bikes were being used on average just once a day.

Roads minister Jaala Pulford said the bikes had “reached the end of their functional life” but their removal would in fact be a positive within the inner city.

“By phasing out the bike share scheme we will create more space on our footpaths for pedestrians and bike parking, which is what regular cyclists and pedestrians tell us is needed in the CBD,” she said.

But the government refused to answer questions posed by Docklands News about the future of share bikes in Melbourne, including whether there were plans for a renewed scheme.

Launched in 2010, the bikes were never truly embraced by Melburnians, for a host of reasons.

Some cited mandatory helmet laws for the low uptake, while the introduction of the free tram zone in 2015 was also said to have contributed to its failure.

The Victorian Greens slammed the decision to remove what it called the “half-cooked” scheme, and said Melbourne was falling behind other cities.

“A successful bike share scheme is an essential element of any world-class city,” transport spokesperson Sam Hibbins said.

“It’s a lazy decision by the government to scrap the Melbourne bike share scheme and it will damage Melbourne’s reputation as one of the world’s most liveable cities.”

“Every other world-class city has a successful bike share scheme, Melbourne should be no different.”

Bicycle Network general manager of public affairs Anthea Hargreaves said the scheme never received the investment needed to succeed.

“A small network of docks and bikes in Melbourne was the number one reason for the failure of the program,” she said.

“The key to a successful bike share scheme is accessibility, location and scale.”

Ms Hargreaves said successful programs in cities such as London, Paris and Barcelona suggest it could work in Melbourne.

“We know that bike share schemes can work, we just have to get it right. As well as the right number of bikes and docks we also need high quality, connected bike lanes and infrastructure.”

The RACV, which operated the scheme on behalf of the government, was disappointed the blue bikes were to be discontinued.

General manager of mobility Elizabeth Kim said they hoped something would fill the void.

“We definitely see a future for bike riding here in the city,” she said. “There’s certainly scope in the future for different combinations of bikes and other ways of getting around.”

The RACV has said once the scheme is discontinued on November 30, it will donate bikes and bike parts to local charities “where possible”.

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