by Madura McCormack
Fremantle local Peter Dawson has taken the absence of a bike share system in WA by the wheels, starting up Urban Steed, a small-scale idea he hopes to spread one day across the city.
Although cycling rates in WA are the highest in all of Australia, with a quarter of the population riding a bicycle in a typical week, no established bike share system yet exists.
“There’s no one else talking about it or working towards a bike share system in Perth,” says Dawson.
With only five bicycles in three Fremantle locations, Urban Steed is still in its testing phases as Dawson finds the right mix of equipment to scale up, but his hopes are high.
“We’re working towards having a large fleet of bikes that anyone can just pick up and drop off at any location using an app,” says Dawson, who is currently using a trip around Europe to research different bike share systems.
One hurdle, he says, is Australia’s mandatory helmet laws which mean any bike share system will need to find an efficient way to deliver safety equipment, something Melbourne has struggled with.
Cycling in the spotlight
The discussion comes at a time when the WA government is paying more attention to the growing popularity of cycling.
This week, the government released funding for Bike Week 2016 and allocated $27 million to cycling infrastructure across Perth over the next four years.
When asked about Urban Steed, Transport Minister Dean Nalder says the state government is very supportive of cycling initiatives.
“As WA’s transport landscape continues to evolve we are looking for new ways to accommodate short bicycle trips,” says Minister Nalder.
However a spokesperson for the Department of Transport says there are no plans for the Government to fund or implement a bike share scheme.
“The Department of Transport has researched bicycle share schemes in other states and overseas. Discussions are continuing with a variety of stakeholders on this topic,” says the Department of Transport spokesperson.
“Anything which encourages people to use bike share is a good thing. Bike share systems elsewhere do work, especially for short trips,” says Sarah Smith from cycling advocacy group WestCycle.
Hear Peter Dawson talking about his bike-share plan.