25 Oct 2009
Bike Share, will we ever get it here?
Melbourne wants Bike share. It could change cycle culture in Australia .
It’s just been announced that a consortium made of the RACV, along with the US company, ALTA, has just won the contract to bring bike share to Australia for the first time.
Brisbane has recently signed a similar contract, that one with the French company, J. C. Decaux. Which city is up and running first, if either, will be a race to watch.
The winning RACV bid plans to put 600 public bikes into the Melbourne inner city for easy public access on the swipe of a card or insertion of a membership tag.
The bikes for Melbourne will be the BIXI model which has just had its first very successful North American season. 5000 of the sturdy sit-up BIXI bikes have been on the streets of Montreal since the northern spring, dispensed from numerous solar powered docking stations around the city.
For Melbourne though, now starts the hard part. I found out from the winning company, Alta, presenting at the recent Bike Futures conference in Melbourne, that there’s a huge stumbling blog in the way.
Whilst there are now hundreds of bikes shares schemes around the world, either up and running or in the planning stages, there has never been one successfully set up in a country with compulsory helmet laws such as ours.
How to dispense helmets with these bikes, is a long way from being solved, as my interviewees, candidly admit. For legal and health reasons, helmets can’t be automatically dispensed along with the bikes.
Yet if they are not, the flexibility which it the key to bike share success, is gone
You can see my exclusive investigation in the film below.
In my report, I call the bikes we may get, Mixis. The Montreal name, Bixi, was decided through a public competition. It’s a running together of the french word for bicycle and taxi.
Back to the helmet problem. A friend sent me this clip about a new folding helmet. It might be part of the solution, at least for the local bike share clientele.
By the way, I do very much like the elegance of slow riding that Mixis would bring to our cities.
The slow bike movement started by Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize.com, is a great idea.
I visited David Hembrow’s excellent blog, (The View From the Cycle path. Link on the side) to find this wonderful portrait of the biking past, cycling in Holland in the 50′s, put together by Mark Wagenbuur.
Mark’s the one who also did another clip I borrowed, one which showed how up-straight people ride in Holland, and, as is clear from this video, they did back then as well.
This is a film to just bathe in, to bask in the glide, the beauty of bicycle movement, the serenity of such a life , much of which has been lost today, outside of Holland.
I say, outside Holland, because as David points out, little has changed in the way people get around there, even today. Enjoy it.