To Sydneysiders and Melbournites, they are (sometimes literally) a part of the landscape at this point. Bicycle sharing services are swarming on the country like carbon-neutral locusts – and Southport, Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach and Varsity Lakes are next.
Mobike were the first smart bike sharing platform in the world and are now the largest, too. In its first venture on Australian shores the company has gained the exclusive right to operate its dockless bike share program on the Gold Coast with 2,000 bikes expected to be available by January 2018.
Mobike says its biked have been modified for the local market – they will have three-speed gears, a larger frame and 26-inch wheels to suit local riders, as well as front and rear lights for safety. Some will even have surfboard racks.
It’ll be just in time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, too.
“Gold Coast is an ideal location for us to start our smart bikeshare service,” said Chris Martin, Vice-President of International for Mobike.
“We are very pleased to be the exclusive partner for the city and delivering our mission to improve city residents’ quality of life by providing an affordable means of shared transportation while reducing congestion and air pollution.”
Martin says Mobike is “actively exploring opportunities” for expanding to more Australian cities, too.
As cynical as people like to be about cycle sharing, especially when it’s difficult to walk down the street without seeing a bike shoved in a hedge, or thrown into a river, there are genuine environmental benefits to these services.
“Mobike’s operations are founded on being responsible, sustainable, and innovative,” the company says.
“The smart bike sharing service helps relieve congestion, reduce pollution, and provides a simple and cost-effective mobility solution in urban areas.”
There’s also the “Big Data” element – Mobike collects and analyses information about bike hires in its AI program, Magic Cube, and passes the information on to city planners.
“We’ve chosen a team with both international and local expertise to ensure our city becomes a bikeshare success story,” says Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate of the plan.
“The scheme provides flexibility for users who can park the bike in designated parking areas or in other appropriate locations without the need for parking infrastructure.”
Tate confirmed the bikes will be rolled out “strategically”, with availability increased to meet demand.
To use the service, you’ll need to download the Mobike app, register, and scan the QR code on the bike. This will unlock the bike. When you’re done, you need to park it at a “preferred parking location” (visible on the app)and manually close the lock on the bike.
And don’t leave it in a tree, please.