Next Generation Specialist
Transport Planning and Engineering Consultants

O-Bike – Bad experience raises many questions

share bike on a bus stop

The recent emergence of shared bikes into inner-Sydney [1] and the ongoing media coverage [2] prompted PeopleTrans in support of our environmental management policy, to make use of O-bikes in our working day to ride to a meeting. We were also interested to see how the system worked for our own research and understanding as transport planners.

However, the experience was particularly frustrating and as far as measuring success would almost be termed a 100% failure with some bikes unable to be unlocked and others unrideable (due to broken seats, no handlebars and no brakes).
So, in our attempt for two people to ride bicycles from Wynyard station to Surry Hills (an ideal cycling distance) for a project meeting, we were unable to unlock one of the bikes at Wynyard station and the one that we could unlock was unusable as it had a broken seat.

We then caught the train to Central station, with PeopleTrans helmets in hand, where once again we attempted to use O-Bikes at Central station. In this instance both bikes unlocked, but one of them had no brakes so the end result, because we were now running late, was to use a taxi to reach our final destination.

If this is the norm for use of this service, then there really is no point providing it as it creates more issues than it solves. Without regular maintenance and guaranteed availability then bikes sprawled all over the City achieves very little.

We agree with the City of Sydney “that bike share schemes have a key role to play in our transport future”[3] but they need to be effective to achieve this. Maybe it is time for the City of Sydney and other inner-city Councils to re-consider a docking bike share system which is so effective in other global cities of the world[4]?

The idea of having “dockless bikes” and the convenience of picking up and dropping off bikes wherever you want to sounds like a good one in theory, but in practice, it really is fraught with issues which are still to be overcome.

Could this be one big scam where you pay a sign on registration and initial fees for unlocking a bicycle which then proves unusable, even if you never use the service again? With thousands of potential customers, these bike share companies could be collecting some serious dollars!

Usually the first experience defines future use which in our view, does not bode well for our future uptake of this service in Sydney.


Author: Alan Stewart, Director, all references last accessed 25/2/18

[1]  Currently there are 4 dockless bikeshare schemes on offer in inner Sydney i.e. O-Bikes, Ofo, Mobike & Reddygo, , ;