Earlier this year local newspaper The Age ran a piece titled Have bike, will bend the rules to peddle, detailing the plague of advertising covered bicycles that have appeared on bike racks around the Melbourne CBD:
Businesses in the CBD are using public bicycle racks as free outdoor advertising space to get around the council’s sandwich board permit laws.
Dozens of bikes fitted with advertising signage are being parked in bike racks on busy footpaths around the city, including Swanston, Elizabeth and Collins streets and Flinders Lane, promoting various businesses and enterprises, from theatre shows to cafes.
Business owners say it is the “only way” they can advertise to passing traffic because of the council’s “restrictive” street signage regulations.
So is it legal?
The City of Melbourne has confirmed it has received two complaints in the past two months about the practice and says it could be in breach of local laws.
“It’s often a question of degree. For example, if a normal, operating, commuter bicycle has a business name painted on the body of it, it wouldn’t be considered to be a portable advertising sign,” a Melbourne City Council spokeswoman said in a statement. “If, however, a reference to a business on a bicycle is considered to be a portable advertising sign, then a permit is required.”
She said such a breach would typically incur a warning in the first instance, but could incur a fine.
Some shops just tape a flyer to the back of any old bike they find.
Using an a-frame might be a bit more sturdy.
But jerry rigging it to a milk crate is much easier.
Others build a fancy wooden board and choose a bicycle that is colour coordinated with their brand.
Fake flowers are a decorative touch.
Building the sign into the frame of the bike is another way to advertise.
Adding a bike trailer is one way to increase the advertising real estate you have available.
But you get a much bigger impact by attaching a massive banner to where the seat used to be.
You don’t need to have a low advertising budget to settle for a parked bike – how about a fancy printed sign attached to a parked electric scooter?
And it isn’t just businesses wanting to get their message across – religious evangelists have also discovered what a parked bike can do for them.
And finally – you don’t need to settle for a static advertisment – just pay someone to ride your new bike down Swanston Street.