Rebalancing Melbourne Bike Share bicycles

Managing the Melbourne Bike Share system should be easy – users pick up a bicycle from their local station, go for a ride, and then check it back in at their destination. However in the real world it is more complex, as there needs to be a mix of spare bikes and empty docking bays available at each location.

Businessman rents a Melbourne Bike Share bike

As times goes on, some stations start to collect bicycles, like this one down at Docklands.

Melbourne Bike Share station down on Collins Street in Docklands

Others stations in busy locations (like Federation Square) see a mix of incoming and outgoing riders.

Melbourne Bike Share station at Federation Square

While stations like this one never see people drop off bikes – riding to the top of the hill is too much work!

Empty rack at the Melbourne Bike Share station on Bourke Street

The solution to the problem is a fleet of staff to shuffle bicycles around the city.

Melbourne Bike Share ute transferring bikes between stations

They visit the docking stations with too many bikes, and load up their ute.

Relocating Melbourne Bike Share bicycles between stations

Then ferry them to locations lacking bicycles.

Ute transferring Melbourne Bike Share bikes between stations

Further reading

Last week Gizmodo ran an article about the science behind reallocating bicycles in bike share systems – inspired by a journal article by Chelsea Wald title ‘Wheels when you need them‘.

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8 Responses to “Rebalancing Melbourne Bike Share bicycles”

  1. Evan says:

    In Montreal (the original location for the Bixi system that Melbourne uses), this is a massive issue. Montreal has a big hill (Mont Real – Mount Royal), and a big bike culture (it’s crazy – they have metered bike parking).

    So everyone rides their Bixi down the hill to work, and catches the Metro home. They have big North American style utes with huge tandem trailers – several of them – to deal with the hundreds of extra bikes that end up at the bottom of the hill every day. Popular locations need attendants during peak times to manually handle all the bikes.

  2. Andrew says:

    I heard of one woman who rode from Federation Square to Melbourne Uni to find all bike slots were full, so rode back to RMIT and then caught the tram back.

  3. Charlotte says:

    Helmets have been another issue. Until recently apparently each 7/11 only had a couple so you had to walk to several to find one, and then pay for it. I see they have them out on display now though.

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