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Are Australians “tyred” of dockless bike sharing?

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If you’re thinking about signing up for bike sharing, you might want to consider a docked service.

Earlier this month, bike sharing company oBike pulled its services from Melbourne following an announcement from the Victoria Environmental Protection Agency that the city would be instituting a new hefty fine for bikes left in hazardous locations. The future of the company in Adelaide and Sydney is still unclear.

oBike isn’t the only struggling bike sharing service. Less than a year after the world’s largest bike sharing platform first launched in Australia, ofo announced its decision to leave Australia. Australian owned Reddy Go is also restructuring its services. Though it remains to be seen if the company plans to close entirely, the fact that it’s giving away its bikes certainly isn’t a good sign. All three companies have remained silent on their websites and social media about ongoing changes.

While other popular overseas ventures have entered Australia with lacklustre results, there seems to be a unique hostility towards bike sharing among Australians. Why aren’t Australians embracing bike sharing?

Strict helmet laws may be partly to blame. While companies like ofo, Airbike and CityCycle attempted to provide every customer with a courtesy helmet, in reality, many helmets were lost or stolen. Some customers opted to use their own helmets, but carrying a helmet around lessens the convenience of using a shared bike.

However, helmets aren’t the only problem. According to Conor Wynn, a behavioural change researcher at Monash University’s BehaviorWorks research institute, Australians simply don’t like following the rules. Compared to Singapore, where bike sharing has been much more successful, bike sharing customers in Australia are less likely to follow suggestions on where to park their bikes. Australians are also more individualistic and less likely to worry about long-term consequences. In other words, Australians aren’t afraid to leave their bikes in the middle of the road or dump them in the Yarra River as they see fit.

So what does this mean for Australian consumers? Current bike sharing customers should contact ofo, oBike or Reddy Go directly to find out about the status of their memberships or deposits.

If you’re considering trying out bike sharing for the first time, docked services like Melbourne Bike Share and CityCycle are probably your safest bet unless you live in Canberra where dockless bike sharing is just getting started. Earlier this week, Australian company Airbike announced via Facebook plans to expand into Canberra and bring the ACT its first bike sharing service. Let’s hope Canberrans are better at following the rules than Melbournians and Sydneysiders.

If you’re not interested in bike sharing but still want to cycle to work, find out where to buy a bike online in Australia. If you want to protect your new bike, check out our guide to bicycle insurance. And if you’re over biking entirely but still want an affordable and eco-friendly way to get around Australian cities, consider downloading a ride sharing app.

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Pictures: Shutterstock

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