Monday, June 7, 2010

Melbourne Bike Share

Melbourne has rolled out a bike share program in the city. It's designed for short trips, modeled, seemingly, after the popular Velib program in Paris. I had read about it, but hadn't encountered the system until the other day.

The goal is to provide an alternative for shorter trips around town. Obviously, I'm all for this, and I'm sure others are, too. It's a good way to reduce overcrowding on trams, and conceptually, it would keep people from driving some, too. It's important to note that Melbournians love to drive.

For locals, it's a good deal at A$50 per year, with the first 30 minutes of each trip being free, and fairly reasonable rates after that. For tourists, it's A$8 per week, which I think is very fair. Obviously, locals could buy daily or weekly memberships as well, but I doubt that is the target market.

But, I fear that the city has started too small to make this a really viable alternative, or even to prove the concept. Have a look at the station map. I count ten, and I could see three of them from the same street corner. Now look at the station map for Velib. Now zoom out. And again. And again. Shocking, no?

Paris rolled out about 20,000 bikes. I'm sure it didn't all happen at once, but I'm guessing that there are no more than 200 in the Melbourne trial. I hope that the success is fantastic, as riding in inner Melbourne is pretty easy due to the geography. However, I fear that the program has been set up to fail from the start.

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