Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.
Image: Official Woodford Program Cover

Hey Bike nuts! This week I was at Woodford Folk Festival.

Woodford is Australia’s largest annual outdoor cultural and folk festival.

This year, there were over 2,500 amazing musical gigs, performances, shows, talks, demos, roving performances, gardens and activities.

It is a truely amazing experience to wander around Woodfordia.

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival

Here is a copy of the full program – EPIC!!

There is also the Speakers Program, which has over 70 talks on a massive array of topics – including many current social, political and environmental issues.

It is difficult to tell you everything you can see and do at Woodford, so I’m just going to hit the bike high points and let you explore the full shebang for yourself another time if you are interested (highly recommended!).

On arrival – bike parking

It was great to see that at the entrance, the ‘Bike Parking’ was already filling up and that cyclists had a direct and preferential access to the front entrance – rockstar parking for bike riders!

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.



I was delighted to see Wozwaste was not wasting anything – and their market stall looked great! I am super impressed at how their product range has increased since I last saw them.

I popped in for a good chat and catch up. they are doing great work with recycling materials. While we were chatting, I asked a few technical questions about issues I was having working with bike inner tubes. They had had the same difficulties I was experiencing and so had decided to switch over to using motorbike inner tubes now as a result.

I really appreciate Wozwaste’s philosophy and commitment. It is inspiring to know people are out there whereby up/recycling is the basis of their business. It was great to see their range first hand and see what they have achieved so far.

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.


Roving Performances

The Rain Cloud

The heat and sun was super hot, so the organisers arranged to have the rain cloud bike roving to help cool off punters.

This is four person, pedal-powered bike which ‘rained’ a fine mist over those who stood near the clouds.

It was a great way to cool off, the drizzle was a very welcome reprieve. When the bike stopped, people were encouraged to sit on the float to rest and cool off – the kids loved it!

There were seven operators, all in various costumes who took it in turns to ride and/ore entertain as needed.

A very effective and impressive roving performance!

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.


Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.


Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.


The Woodford Postal Service

This roving performance also served a legitimate service.

Within Woodfordia, there is the Post House, from which there is a team of Posties on bikes whose job it is to rider around, interacting with festival goers by ‘delivering letters’.

The idea is that you can stop a Postie (or they might ask you) to ‘send’ a message or letter to someone throughout the day/festival.  It can be any message you like and you give a description to the postie and their job is to deliver it – which makes for some hilarious interactions as some of the descriptions are quite vague, so there are many posties going up to people asking them if they are so and so in an attempt to deliver a message.

In an age of instant text messaging, this kind of audience participation activity was inventive, creative and so much fun to be part of.

Everyone was getting into it and the posties did a great job!

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.


Out the front of ‘The Post House’

Festival-goers on wheels

Woodfordia has a great path network and the access is well thought out, so it was great to see a higher number of many festival visitors on wheels getting around.

There were a few wheel chairs, but far more hand-driven chairs and recumbents and a few scooters.

Most notably, there was a very popular trolley stall which hired out wagons for families to wheel their tired kids around. This a great idea for storage, sleeping kids, having some shade, reserving some space and being able to find your people at a distance – GOLD!

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.


Image: Rock n Roller Wagons

Bike Refreshments Stall

Throughout the day, I kept seeing Jeremy and his gorgeous pedal-powered refreshments stall rinding around. I had to go up and chat to him. He is a genuinely beautiful man and was so happy to be out and about. His happiness was infectious. Great shoes and what a smile!

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.

Unknown Pink Bikers

These guys had a compound that was open at certain times and they were entertaining people with tricks, magic and activities.

Later on, I saw them riding around interacting with punters and generally adding to the overall cheer and colour.

Great to see more bikes getting around, but some of the older guys in glitter glam hot pink Barbarella-style costuming might have scared a few of the kids.

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.


Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.


Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.


Opening Ceremony

I’m sure you will be able to get a hold of some footage of the official opening ceremony for the festival. There were massive puppets, fire work, a latern parade, an aboriginal welcoming ceremony and dancing, various singers to name a few.

Of most interest for this post was the use of bicycles during the later parade to help move the larger lantern around as needed – it was only when you looked closely could you see that bikes were instrumental in the latern below in particular.

Bikes at Woodford Folk Festival. Bicycles Create 29th Dec 2017.


Overall – a wonderful time!

Whether you are going for bikes or the music or the culture – Woodford has it all.

It was great to see so much wonderful music, vibrancy, creativity, colour, energy, care and community.

What a great was to end the year!

See you in 2018! Happy and safe riding all!

Recycled Christmas Decorations

Recycled Christmas Decorations @ Bicycles Create 24th Dec 2017

Given that Christmas is impending and the weather has been super hot here in Brisbane, I have sought refuge inside with a cool drink, experimenting making ‘recycled caps’.

The first experiment – making badges

I trialed these for the first time in November this year, when my cousin came up from Victoria and I’d bought up my ‘magic crafternoon box’ (which turned out to be a great idea as we had a few super wet days) and we experimented with making our own badges.

The base are beer bottle tops.

For the inserts, I had some spare inner tubes, bike parts and stickers. I had also brought pictures I had printed on recycled paper. The rest of the images we drew.

We experimented with inner tubes, paper and cardboard types as the base. Then with epoxy, superglue, hot glue gun and Mod Podge to see what different functions, finishes and adhesives we could achieve with each.

As you can see below, some worked out better than others.

Most importantly, we spent quality and creative time, only used items we had recycled and we had great fun doing it together – plus we made our own custom made badges to wear! Sweet!

As the afternoon worn on, we got much more adventurous – and structural!

Recycled Christmas Decorations @ Bicycles Create 24th Dec 2017 Recycled Christmas Decorations @ Bicycles Create 24th Dec 2017

Second Experiment – other materials

So, in the lead-up to Christmas, I’ve had another crafternoon to test some other materials and found objects.  This time they were just caps, no badges.

As last time, I used bottle caps (so easy) and decorated them with recycled inner tubes, a bike chain, small bike parts, but this time also used bits from a $5 mixed jewellery op shop bag, some of husband’s old guitar strings – and any thing else I’m game to try, like a beetle shell and bottle pull rings.

Unlike the first lot, none of these are set in resin or epoxy. I wanted to do a selection without a finish to see how the cardbord and set trickets respond to not being coated.

I’m very happy with this second batch.

I tried some different designs and I really like being able to reuse the small and fiddly bike parts that ususally get discarded.

These caps are great as Christmas tree decorations, as a gift itself, or as an embellishment for presents, or any manner of other uses. I’ve got a few other ideas for these caps.

But considering the time of year, these caps are as close to mainsteam Christmas as I dare to get.

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours on a hot day. I survived only by having a few beers, having Queen’s 1986 Wembley Concert playing and taking regular intervals to walk the dog. A lovely way to spend an afternoon – and stay away from the crazy shopping crowds!

So however you chose to decorate your holiday this week, I hope you a great time.

Happy holidays, happy biking, happy recycling!!

I hope you enjoy collecting your own beer caps!!

Set up and prep

Recycled Christmas Decorations @ Bicycles Create 24th Dec 2017

Recycled Christmas Decorations @ Bicycles Create 24th Dec 2017

Some close-ups at different stages of development

Recycled Christmas Decorations @ Bicycles Create 24th Dec 2017 Recycled Christmas Decorations @ Bicycles Create 24th Dec 2017 Recycled Christmas Decorations @ Bicycles Create 24th Dec 2017 Recycled Christmas Decorations @ Bicycles Create 24th Dec 2017 Recycled Christmas Decorations @ Bicycles Create 24th Dec 2017 Recycled Christmas Decorations @ Bicycles Create 24th Dec 2017

Bike T-shirt Champions

Following on from the last post looking at where to get cool, original, and good quality bike t-shirts, this post is looking at some that I have already seen out and about. This has inspired me to start an Instagram photo collection called #biketshirtchampion.

Bicycles Create -20th Dec. Bike T-shirt Champions
At St Andrews Market (VIC).

Like most other rider, bikes are very central in my life.

As with anything that is at the forefront of your attention or your major passion, this means I see bikes everywhere.

Which I think is awesome!

It is easy to pick riders when they are with their bikes. Conversely, when most riders are not on their bikes, many wear bike-related clothing.

At most bike events, races and festivals you get to see some pretty cool bike designs getting dusted off – I know I always wear one of mine to events.

Going through my photo albums recently, I realised that I have heaps of pictures of people in bike t-shirts.

For example, when I was in Cairns last year for the UCI World Cup, I deliberately wore my ‘tandem t-shirt’. It was a great way to start conversations and people really got the quick humour of it.

While I was there, I saw heaps of other people walking around in bike t-shirts as well …it was awesome! I remember going up to a few strangers who had particularly funky bike prints and having a chat about where they got it and asking if I could take a photo.

As many regular readers know, since February, I have been building up my Instagram #bikes_CISTA project.

Starting a Bike T-shirt Photo Collection.

In a similar vein to the #bike_CISTA approach, I’m going to experiment with the idea that if I see a bike-themed t-shirt, I will make an effort to introduce myself, have a chat and ask if I can take a photo to add to a community bike t-shirt collection.

For the moment, I’m going to call it The Bike T-shirt Champions.

I’ll be using #biketshirtchampion to add to the collection.

My working premise for Bike T-shirt Champions photo collection at the moment is similar to #Bikes_CISTA

Eligibility for a Bike T-shirt Champion photo invite requires:

  • my own t-shirt collection is not included
  • needs to be someone I do not know
  • have at least one person
  • have at least one bicycle-themed t-shirt (not ride kit)
  • subjects are happy to stop and have a chat with me
  • subjects give their verbal permission for me to take and post their photo (up to them if they want to be identified or not – not means no face int he photo).

For the beginning, I’ve included my own bike t-shirt Instagram photos into the #biketshirtchampion collection, although I won’t be including them in the final collection – they have to be other people’s bike t-shirts!

Over the Holiday break, I’ll go back over my Instagram account and look for photos I have already uploaded that included a Bike T-shirt Champion. And from now on I’ll be keeping my eyes open for people who are happy to contribute!

Doing this project is my small way of documenting, collating, sharing and celebrating some of the awesome bike t-shirts I see in and around my community.

Its an experiment – so we’ll see how we go! I’m looking forward to seeing what may eventuate from this.

Check out bicycles_create_change on Instagram for more!

Here are some I already have that work as Bike T-shirt Champions… and I’m looking forward to adding some more and meeting some more lovely cycle-crazy, t-shirt-wearing bike riders!

Bicycles Create -20th Dec. Bike t-shirt Champions
Sebastian @Northey St Organic Markets
Bicycles Create -20th Dec. Bike t-shirt Champions
One of the Chains & Bottle riders from Tassie (do hoodies count?)
Bicycles Create -20th Dec. Bike t-shirt Champions
Patrick & Darby the dog. South Bank, Brisbane.
Bicycles Create -20th Dec. Bike t-shirt Champions
Some of the sweet lads at SSWC 2016
Bicycles Create -20th Dec. Bike t-shirt Champions
Me with Lizzie and her dad Pierre in La Thuile, Italy for the World Enduro.


Bicycles Create -20th Dec. Bike t-shirt Champions
Larry ( & Harry) at the Kurilpa Derby
Bicycles Create -20th Dec. Bike t-shirt Champions
Jill Kintner warming up. Cairns 2015 UCI World Cup
Bicycles Create -20th Dec. Bike t-shirt Champions
In the pits at the 2015 Cairns UCI World Cup
Bicycles Create -20th Dec. Bike t-shirt Champions
I see these classic Space for Cycling t-shirts at pretty much every cycling event in Brisbane
Bicycles Create -20th Dec. Bike t-shirt Champions
Mates wearing MZO and Obey t-shirts





Where to get awesome bike t-shirts

 Bike t-shirts have been on my mind lately. I’ve been seeing more and more of them around. So, the next couple of posts will be exploring bike t-shirts. To get us started, this first post is looking at where to find unique bike-inspired-t-shirts.

Bicycles Create -16th Dec. Where to get awesome
Source: Bisikleta

Where to get awesome bike t-shirts

How many bike t-shirts do you have?

Cycling t-shirts are a quick and easy way to identify yourself, and others, as a lover of all things two-wheeled.

Some people wear them to promote their particular cycling code (road riding, MTBing, BMX etc) or their favourite era of riding (1970s, 1980s, Klunketz) or their favourite rider (Eddie Mercx, Kelly McGazza), favourite bike shop, or bike brand (Campagnolo, Rapha, Castelli, Specialized).

Others have commemorative bike t-shirts of special places they have ridden, special bike races (Tour de France) or events they themselves have participated in – like the t-shirts you find included in event registration packs.

Some riders are part of a team that produce their own t-shirts, others like new bike t-shirts, or one-off, limited editions, others inherit, swap, find them in op-shop and few even design their own.

Over the years I have scoured op-shops, been given bike t-shirts as gifts or won them as prizes.

Regardless of where you source your bike t-shirts, it is a clear signifier of your cycling passion, identity and community.

There are some very cool designs floating around – the more unique the better!

Bicycles Create -16th Dec. Where to get awesome bike t-shirts
Design: @ilovedoodle

Not all bike t-shirts are created equally

I’ve always got my eye out for bike t-shirts when I am out and about. I especially like the unique and funky designs.

Bike t-shirts with crappy graphics, cheezy memes or that are heavily branded are by far my least favourite.

Like many other cyclists, I wear bike t-shirts a lot.

It is a great ice-breaker when out and about, as strangers who are cyclists will often strike up a conversation knowing that you have something in common.

I’ve had some lovely random conversations and met some wonderful people that I would not have otherwise had a chat to if one of us had not been wearing a bike-shirt.

Conversely, I always make an effort to acknowledge other people who wear bike t-shirts.

So, where do you get your funky bike t-shirts from?

If you are looking for some new ideas – here are my top 4 online places to get some funky bike t-shirts.

Top online awesome bike t-shirts sources

1. Cycology

2. Etsy

3. Redbubble 

4. Threadless

5. Spreadshirt

Or use Instagram and check out your favourite hashtags like #cyclingtshirt to see else is out there.

Bicycles Create -16th Dec. Where to get awesome bike t-shirts
Source: Rouler The Tom
Bicycles Create -16th Dec. Where to get awesome bike t-shirts
Design. Kneil Melican


Bicycles Create -16th Dec. Where to get awesome bike t-shirts
Source: Endo: Wearendo the Yellow Giant Tricycle
Bicycles Create -16th Dec. Where to get awesome bike t-shirts
Source: Bilenky Cycle Works – Born to Sweat
Bicycles Create -16th Dec. Where to get awesome bike t-shirts
Design: BurnTheBeans

So, you cool cycling cats..Happy shopping!

And be sure to say hi to the next person you see wearing a bike t-shirt!

Forbidden women riding bikes in Iran

Bicycles Create Dec 11th.Women riding bikes in Iran
Source: cyclists_boj

Forbidden women riding bikes in Iran

In September 2016, the supreme leader of Iran Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa (which is a legal ruling issued by an Islamic religious leader) that prohibits women from riding a bike in a public place.

Mr Khamenei explained via the state media, that the fatwa was issued because “riding a bicycle often attracts the attention of men and exposes the society to corruption, and thus contravenes women’s chastity, and it must be abandoned.”

As recent as November 28th, 2017, national public radio reminded all of Iran of Khamenei’s fatwa that prohibits women from riding a bike in public as they are ‘exposed to unknown people’.

Despite this, women in Iran are uploading videos of themselves riding their bikes in defiance of the fatwa that bans female cycling for “contravening women’s chastity”.

Since then, a number of women and groups of riders are refusing to adhere – and more so,  are encouraging others to take a stand too.

This movement has been covered over the last year by a small number of online and social media as well as through news outlets such as:

Bicycles Create Dec 11th. Women riding bikes in Iran
Source: versionvintage


1 My Stealthy Freedom

My Stealthy Freedom is a online movement that was started in 2014 by the activist/journalist Masih Alinejad. It is an online movement that began by sharing images of women wihtout their scarves, and has since evolved to draw international attention to a range of Iranian women’s rights and issues.

Such as not being allowed to ride a bike.

My Stealthy Freedom has been availtly promoting and sharing images of female bike riders on various social media outlets – many of which are shared using #Iranianwomenlovecycling.

2 #Iranianwomenlovecycling

This social media hashtag is used on Instagram and Twitter as a forum to publicly defy the fatwa, raise awareness and as an unregulated avenue for local female riders to show their love of riding.

Talk about locally-driven social and gender activism!

It is very inspiring to see this kind of movement – and being supported so many cyclists (and others) overseas who understand and value the importance of bike riding for all.

It is also great to see that bicycles really are universally loved.

It also makes me very humble to be living and riding in Australia.

It begs the question: How is your bike riding contributing to making society a better place for all?

Happy riding!

Here’s a few pictures from Instagram’s #Iranianwomenlovecycling.

Bicycles Create Dec 11th. Women riding bikes in Iran
Source: leyla.lotfy
Bicycles Create Dec 11th. Women riding bikes in Iran
Source: chs_internationalclub
Bicycles Create Dec 11th. Women riding bikes in Iran
Source: vahid.nasseri

Bicycles Create Dec 11th. Women riding bikes in Iran


Counterview and Critique of Bicycle Network’s Helmet Survey Results

On Nov 21st, I posted the results of the Bicycle Network’s Helmet Law Survey. I was delighted this week to see some topical debate about the results taking place amongst the wider Australian cycling community.  I was most impressed by the active, critical engagement and points raised by the Freestyle Cyclist Editor, who yesterday posted a very interesting commentary about the Bicycle Network itself and it’s handling of the Helmet Law Survey. If you haven’t see it yet, here it is. Always good to hear differing points of view and advocates pushing for more thoughtful approaches of key issues for further positive action! You can add your voice to the Helmet Law Reform here. Enjoy, NG.

Bicycles Create Dec 6th, 2017- Counterview of Bicycle Network's Helmet Survey Results

Will Australia’s largest bike riding organisation be influenced by the majority of submitted participation/injury evidence and surveyed public opinion when it decides over the next few months whether to continue supporting Australia’s mandatory bicycle helmet laws?

The Bicycle Network has published the results of its open survey during August and September on public and membership opinion of the helmet laws.
  • The survey was completed by 19,327 respondents
  • Respondents were mostly Bicycle Network members and people who ride bikes with varying regularity.
  • 2.6% of respondents were from overseas, and 1.9% of respondents said they never ride a bike.
  • 58.3% of respondents said there should be a change to helmet laws, while the remaining 41.7% said helmets should be mandatory all the time
  • 40.7% believe helmets should only be mandatory when the risk is high, for example, when racing, on road or for young people
  • 30.4% would ride more if helmets weren’t mandatory
  • If laws changed, almost all people who currently wear a helmet when they ride would continue to do so and the number of people who never wear a helmet when riding would only increase by 3.7%
  • As expressed by the Bicycle Network’s media releaseA survey of almost 20,000 people has found that nearly two-thirds don’t believe you should have to wear a helmet every time you ride a bike in Australia.
Which sounds similar to what Freestyle Cyclists has been saying for the past decade.
Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richard says the network will use the membership and public responses when evaluating its position on helmets, along with literature and expert opinions, with a decision expected in April 2018. “It’s great to get such a large amount of public opinion about bike helmets. It’s something people are clearly passionate about and it’s helpful to see how Australia’s helmet laws may impact people’s decision to ride,” said Mr Richards. “The opinion of our members and people who ride bikes is important and will help inform our policy on Australia’s mandatory helmet law. Along with academic research and information from experts, we will be able to make a fully informed decision.”
The Bicycle Network has about 50,000 members. Its influence could force media and political consideration of the helmet law issue if its policy review objectively considers the mountain of evidence proving Australia’s helmet law failure and if it does the right thing in April by recommending repeal.
A majority of Bicycle Network members are lycra cyclists who always wear helmets and it is interesting that 38.9% wanted some form of repeal in their survey responses. Among the network members, 70.4% would continue to wear a helmet every time they ride.
Bicycles Create Dec 6th, 2017- Counterview of Bicycle Network's Helmet Survey Results
Among all respondents to the Bicycle Network survey, 17.6% believed that bicycle helmets should never be mandatory, in line with the Freestyle Cyclists opinion that they should be voluntary among all ages. Only 1.9% of survey respondents said they never ride a bike and 30.4% of all respondents said they would cycle more if helmets weren’t mandatory.
Of course, the survey wasn’t measuring the hundreds of thousands of people who would actually ride a bike in the first place if not threatened with police punishment for cycling without a helmet.
The public health and traffic safety benefits would be enormous with both more cyclists and a 30% increase in current cycling duration. All the newly participating riders would otherwise probably be driving a car and the hospital data suggests fewer cyclists will be crashing and injuring some part of their body. 
The Bicycle Network is under pressure from many within its own membership, from Australia’s pro-law academia and from the media to make no change to its long-standing position of support for mandatory bike helmet laws. Most mainstream media such as in Western Australia continue to ignore any reference to the Bicycle Network’s helmet policy review, let alone the survey results. 
The few media outlets that have published stories online or in press about the survey results have highlighted the medical community’s opposition and/or quoted one of the many helmeted cyclists who so frequently crash and are convinced it has saved their life.

It’s likely that well over 99% of Australians are unaware of the review or survey, adding weight to the 19,327 who did know and let their majority helmet law opposition be known in the Bicycle Network survey.

Freestyle Cyclists urges the Bicycle Network to objectively evaluate the real world evidence of Australia’s mandatory helmet law failure and accept that its own pro-repeal survey results support the mountain of submitted evidence that the laws discourage a huge number of people from riding a bike, and with highly questionable injury results.

Readers are urged to read the expert opinions linked at the bottom of the Bicycle Network’s policy review page.

All 32 opinions are worth reading but we recommend those submitted by Freestyle Cyclists, Professor Chris Rissel,  and researcher Chris Gillham.

Bicycles Create Dec 6th, 2017- Counterview of Bicycle Network's Helmet Survey Results

 This post was originally posted on Freestyle Cyclist (5th Dec, 2017) and the full text has been reprinted here as per the original. Text emphasis is my own. Images my own sources.

Bike-sharing fiascoes

This post come courtesy of Senior Lecturer in Transport at the University of Huddersfield.  This article is an extension to a previous bike sharing article he wrote last year. A lot has changed since then! Thanks for giving permission to share this article Alexandros!

Bike sharing fiascos - Bicycles Create

Bike-sharing fiascoes

Bike-sharing schemes are a fast-growing transport trend, with almost 1,500 operating around the world today. To governments, they’re a novel tool to help ease the burden on public transport systems and reduce congestion in cities. To people, they’re an affordable and green way to get from A to B, without having to actually buy a bike.

Inspired by the principles of the “sharing economy”, bike-sharing schemes aim to make efficient use of resources by providing affordable, short-term access to bikes on an “as-needed” basis.

These schemes have been one of the most distinctive and user-friendly means of inspiring people to change their mode of travel, largely because they blend the sustainability of cycling with the speed and convenience of public transport.

But as striking photographs from China reveal, these bold principles don’t always play out in practice. To prevent thousands of bikes literally piling up in need of repair or retirement, cities and bike-sharing businesses need to swerve around a few obvious potholes.

Bike sharing fiascos - Bicycles Create

An uphill effort

Certain features can make cities hostile places for bike-sharing schemes; for example, overcomplicated planning procedures, strict cycling laws (such as compulsory helmet use) and political friction over giving up parking spaces to bike docks.

Inadequate infrastructure – such as limited bike lanes and unprotected cycle paths – together with traffic safety concerns, bad weather and hilly streets can also put off would-be cyclists. And if schemes suffer from poor promotion or sluggish expansion, the bikes can languish for lack of use.

Traditional bike-sharing schemes enable users to rent and return bikes at special hire stations, but they don’t provide a door-to-door service. So, for them to work, convenience is crucial. Schemes such as Seattle’s Pronto paid the price for having sparse and poorly placed docking stations, ceasing operations in 2017.

Over the last two years, Chinese bike-sharing start-ups such as Mobike and Ofo – funded by internet giants Alibaba and Tencent – have rushed to address this problem, by providing stationless smart bikes, which users can lock and unlock using a mobile app.

With lightning speed, hundreds of door-to-door bike-sharing schemes have spread across China, throughout other Asian countries and finally into Europe – the homeland of conventional public bicycle programmes. This new model has in theory the capacity to transform the world of cycle hire, just as Uber and Lyft have done for cabs.

Fatally flawed?

But amid the rush to embrace this new technology, there have already been a fair few fiascoes. China’s third-biggest bike-sharing company, Bluegogo, has run into financial trouble, despite having 20m users and £226m in deposits at its zenith. With so much competition in the market, there are too many bikes available at very low prices, with insufficient demand from consumers.

Bike sharing fiascos - Bicycles Create

Of course, some of these mistakes are easily avoidable. Wukong Bicycle, a minor Chinese start-up which placed 1,200 bikes in the notoriously hilly Chinese city of Chongqing, went out of business after only six months in operation, with 90% of its bikes presumed missing or stolen. They made the fatal error of not installing GPS devices in their fleet.

Beijing-based bike-sharing firm 3Vbike also went bankrupt in June 2017, after losing more than 1,000 of its bikes in just four months. The scheme relied on location data from WeChat, rather than building its own app, making its tracking functions ineffective. Worse still, the owner had to purchase the bikes himself, for lack of other investors.

Manchester’s Mobike scheme – the first of its kind in the UK – is still going strong, despite facing teething issues during its first three months. Bikes were vandalised, dumped in canals and bins and stolen outright, leading the company’s spokesperson to suggest that the system has been “misundertood”. Bikes have since been taken in for repair, and will be redistributedacross a smaller area in the city centre. The oBike scheme in Australian cities faced similar problems.

Bike sharing fiascos - Bicycles Create

Survival guide

So, even with the right technology, dockless schemes are prone to misuse. If this new model of bike-sharing scheme is going to survive, operators will need to take note of these pitfalls, and adapt to the specific needs of their cities. Here are a few measures which can help to ensure the success of a bike-sharing scheme:

  • Stationless bikes might work where traditional bike-sharing schemes have failed, provided there is enough demand for these services. But free-floating bikes must have GPS systems attached – not doing so is a recipe for failure.
  • Fair fares, flexible membership options and ease of access all help to make schemes more user-friendly. And each scheme should have its own purpose-built app – no substitute is good enough.
  • Protection mechanisms and penalties for vandalism and theft should be in place from day one, to help minimise misuse. Market and education campaigns can be used to promote bike-sharing culture, and encourage people to take a positive attitude towards these bikes.
  • Too much competition within a city is a problem – an oversaturated bike-sharing market can be a fatal trap, especially for smaller schemes. Once they’ve assessed the market, operators need to make a city-specific plan for methodical and incremental growth. Rushing things through will lead to disaster.
  • City authorities should enthusiastically support bike-sharing and invest in cycling infrastructure to help schemes succeed; having a champion for the scheme, such as London’s former mayor Boris Johnson, guarantees long-term viability.
  • Very aggressive expansion can doom even the strongest dockless bike-sharing initiatives. Bike-sharing might not be an extremely profitable investment, so it’s important to manage investors’ expectations.

Bike-sharing is still, in many ways, a revelation and a positive addition for many cities which are battling the ill effects of car use. But at the same time it should be realised that not every city is destined to become a paradise for cyclists.

This is most recent article on bike sharing. He has written two previous articles for The Conversation about the (then) burgeoning global bike sharing expansion phenomena (Feb 2016) as well as how cars are killing us and what we can do to wean ourselves off them (from Sept 215). This article and all  images was originally published earlier this week on The Conversation website and then on subsequently on SBS