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Dear Bicycle NSW friend,

You've absolutely nailed the problem with share-bikes being discarded or left thoughtlessly around the streets. Indeed, your safety concerns, especially for the elderly and people with disabilities, are valid.

Could be so much better: Share bikes randomly left on footpaths are a poor advertisement to an excellent concept (Image credit: Flavio Brancaleone / Sydney Morning Herald)

Bicycle NSW believes that bike share holds awesome potential in the race to decarbonise the urban transport network. As there's the potential for an inclusive, low-cost active mode that is convenient, safe and fun. Because what we're talking about is the need to shift from car-first to people-first places. But at the moment it's just potential.

Cities that win at bike share run it differently

According to Bicycle NSW CEO Peter McLean, “you need two or three operators doing it well. Rather than five or six who are less committed.” Also, the bikes should be parked in dedicated corrals off the footpath, not blocking anybody's way. This then makes the model popular to everyone and provides jobs for people redistributing bikes. And the careless are penalised for leaving them in the wrong places. What's more, bike-share can be run such that, not only does it pay for itself, but it turns a profit. This then lowers the price enabling cities to install more infrastructure. Additionally, revenue is raised through advertising. At the moment, there is limited uptake because bike share trips are only marginally cheaper than Ubers.

Bike Share companies are considering carrots and sticks to avoid this (credit: Friend of Bicycle NSW)

It's a bit like the Wild West on Sydney’s streets, with stakeholders hoping that the market will self-regulate while the carcasses mount up.

The problem is that councils are limited in what they can do

Whilst councils can encourage providers to geo-fence bikes into virtual parking spots, critics say this won't solve the problem on congested footpaths where pedestrians, bike riders and parked shared bikes are all vying for limited space.

But we can’t wait for the industry to sort itself out, and nor can the environment.

Artist unknown! Random installation as a monument share bike self-regulation
(Image credit: Lucie Billingsley / Sydney Morning Herald).

Share bikes need dedicated parking corrals in the street

Councils agree, but NSW Government red-tape makes creating bike parking bays in car parking spaces unnecessarily expensive.  And it is an endless exhausting fight to reallocate each and every car space.  Which makes councillors very nervous.

So we're working on a simple solution with the State Government to allow use of street space for share bike corrals. When installation is legislated at state level, local politicians are not in the firing line and it just gets done.

“We absolutely need to support good bike share with dedicated infrastructure. Bike corrals which are 8-times more space efficient than the car spaces they replace. And they encourage people to ride more and drive less,” says Peter McLean.

This will ultimately support both councils and operators. But more importantly, it will turn bike share into a safe, cheap and convenient mobility-as-a-service.

Thanks for getting in touch and watch this space.

Yours, Bicycle NSW

Just one more thing

Not only do we have the best bicycle insurance, but Bicycle NSW has been actively campaigning for 47 years in NSW for better infrastructure for bike riders of all ages and abilities. Join us now and support our campaign for Better Streets.

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