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Council urged to abandon Adelaide Free Bikes

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The city council should abandon funding for the Adelaide Free Bikes scheme in favour of commercial bike-share services which are moving to expand across the metropolitan area, a staff report recommends.

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Dockless bikeshare incursion

The council’s administration has recommended the free public bike-share scheme be extended until the end of this year – at a cost of $60,000 – but withdraw its support after then.

The report also endorses an extension of commercial dockless bike-share operators ofo and O-Bike’s ‘on-street operating’ permits until March 2019.

There was a consensus among councillors last year that if a commercial operator was willing to set up a private bike-share network in the CBD, Adelaide Free Bikes – most popular with tourists and city visitors – should not receive further public funding.

The free scheme, which has been operating since 2005, requires cyclists to return bikes to dedicated locations around the city – whereas the dockless bike-share schemes allow users to leave GPS-tracked bikes wherever their trip ends (within geographical boundaries).

The staff report also suggests criteria for increasing the number of commercial bikeshare bicycles in the CBD, under the council’s permit, allowing more bikes on the road if the average number of hires exceeds 1.2 hires per bike, per day. On the other hand, if the rate of hires per bike is lower than 0.5 per day, the limit may be lowered.

The report asks that the council delegate authority to CEO Mark Goldstone for all future ‘on-street operations’ permit approvals and alterations.

It also reveals the council has received 65 complaints regarding the dockless bikes since commercial operators arrived in Adelaide last year. Most of those complaints related to abandoned bikes, with the bike share operator(s) then being contacted to relocate the bikes.

Adelaide appears to have avoided an equivalent of the spectacle of dozens of bicycles – owned by O-Bike – being fished out of Melbourne’s Yarra River last year.

“Based on the usage statistics provided by the dockless bike-share operators, this equates to a complaint rate of 0.17%,” the report says.

It will be debated at a council meeting this evening.

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