No libertarian purist is going to love London’s new public bike hire scheme but it is nearer to harmless than many other state schemes. Apparently it looks to be quite popular. The same cannot be said for Melbourne’s scheme, launched two months ago with high hopes and high rhetoric about the benefits of cycling for people’s health and the environment. The reason for these “ranks of unused blue bikes” is that another bunch of health-promoting statists had queered the pitch.
Most cities around the world with such a scheme – a network of docking stations of hire bikes – have found it works a treat. Take Montreal, a city Melbourne’s size, which in its first five months logged a million rides.
But Melbourne? Two months after parking 600 bikes in 50 docking stations in the city, the Government has sold just 70 rides a day.
The reason is as simple as it was predictable, and Melbourne Bike Share’s own surveys picked it up as the most cited disincentive: it’s having to wear a helmet.