As Tim Gunn would say, of Project Runway, ‘I’m puzzled’. Central Sydney is now home to not one nor two but FOUR different share bike schemes: Reddygo, Obike, Ofo and Mobike. And you know, I should love these. I loved the scheme in Paris so much that it inspired an article that I had published in the Australian Financial Review’s magazine. I’ve hopped on nearly free bikes in many cities.
The reasons that these schemes should work for both people and cities are:
- They encourage people to get around in a way that is environmentally friendly.
- Cycling is good for health.
- More bikes on the road makes the city a better and safer place for cycling, particularly when the bikes are designed for commuting rather than racing, and are generally sturdy and slow.
- The bikes can be a convenient way to get around, and even for a cyclist like me (although I’ve barely ride these days, scared off by the NSW government creating an hostile atmosphere for cyclists, plus all the construction for the light rail), this model of cycling offers advantages. You don’t have to remember where you left your bike! You can just pick up a bike where you need it, and then drop it off near your destination.
But my effort to try Reddygo in Sydney was a disaster. I paid my deposit a while ago, but I suspect that Reddygo has lost the market already to the other companies. My experiment, trying to get from Surry Hills to Newtown and back, was a disaster. I thought it would be a convenient way to avoid trying to cross the construction zone by bike, and simply get one near Prince Alfred Park.
The only one I found, I unlocked and then found that the back wheel was broken, one of its spokes wound around the frame so I couldn’t even move it. So, I then looked for another and… there were none, all the way to Redfern Station. I was late to meet a friend so grabbed the train instead.
On the way back, I still couldn’t find a bike. I ran into at least three phantom bikes, appearing on the app, but nowhere in sight. Then when I found a bike, near Eveleigh, the app said I needed to pay for the rental of the bike that was broken, and then when I did, it then wanted me to buy $30 of rides, minimum. Are you kidding me, Reddygo? After not being able to find a bike to try, I’m going to throw away money to use more bikes that are broken or don’t exist.
Sadly, I’m not sure whether I want to risk trying one of the other schemes, and really, none of my reasons for why the schemes should work above apply here. Instead:
- The bikes, without designated docking stations, or enough bike parking from the City, are left all over the city, sometimes blocking paths and looking unsightly.
- Many of them seem broken, and the helmets are missing.
- Those who ride them seem to be beginners, and are riding on the sidewalks, down roads in the wrong direction, and further pissing off already too-aggressive drivers and oversensitive pedestrians.
I so want to support the schemes, or want to believe that more bikes on the road will make a city that’s more bike-friendly, but along with the crazy Uber Eats cyclists, it all just seems… f#cked. What a shame.