American electric bike company Lime has become the latest business to try its hand at making bike sharing work in Australia, launching a new scheme in Sydney last week.
It comes after the spectacular failure of similar schemes in Melbourne and Sydney earlier this year, with three international businesses already having tried and failed to set up bike sharing Down Under.
Singaporean giant oBike ceased local operations in June, leaving behind thousands of bikes and unhappy customers.
Others like ofo and ReddyGo exited not long after, following dozens of reports of customers throwing bikes into rivers, up trees and on roads.
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While bike sharing has been roundly mocked in Australia following the failure of past businesses, Lime clearly believes it can change the tone and create a viable business.
An initial 300 bikes have been distributed through Sydney, with plans in the works to add more bikes and also expand to Melbourne.
“Sydney’s need for innovative transport solutions, which cater to the first and last mile, gives us confidence we will see the high uptake of Lime electric bikes within the community,” Lime director of government affairs and strategy in ANZ, Mitchell Price, said in a statement.
Lime has a local team of 50 “operations specialists” and mechanics on hand to respond to customer enquiries and “facilitate positive interactions with the bikes”.
Bike sharing is a simple enough concept: customers use GPS-enabled smartphone applications to unlock bikes near them for a fee, leaving it wherever their ride ends.
Previous iterations of the program in Australia faced criticism from local government and consumers over bike locations being inaccurate and riders not wearing helmets.
Lime’s bikes are electric, which sets them apart from others, with claims of 24 km/h speeds.
The bikes will need to be recharged every two-days, which Lime’s local team will be responsible for.