New electric bikes easy to ride but expensive. Photo: Vanessa Lim

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By Vanessa Lim

New player in the Australian share bike market Lime has distributed over 800 electric bicycles around Sydney streets this week.

With the significant failures of other share bike companies in the Sydney market not appearing to act as a deterrent, Lime has dispatched its bikes from Surry Hills to Bondi Junction.

In the Waverley Council area alone, there are now 150 Lime bikes available for use.

Council responded to criticism of the bikes appearing in the area, emphasising that their release was not part of a council initiative.

Share bike companies do not require council approval to operate in a local government area under current NSW law, but companies can be fined, and bikes impounded if there are safety or nuisance concerns.

These regulations are not enough for some residents, with one addressing her frustration to the council.

“As our council, you have not enforced any ‘safety rules’ for these cyclist companies to the cost of all here who are fearful on our pavements,” said the resident.

“This week we saw a further emergence of lime green bikes, placed almost as trip obstacles sitting on local streets.”

“[There’s] no advice to locals ‘for hire’ notices whether people are able to cycle or understand the road/pavement rules.”

Share bike user Rhiannon Solimon agreed that the mass distribution of share bikes has thus far been more of a nuisance than a convenient sustainable option for local residents.

Ms Soliman said of the bikes, “They can definitely become a waste of space, especially when broken ones are left in places for weeks and weeks in a spot because no one can ride it, and no one is sent to fix it”.

“A couple of companies have gone out of business recently and although they promised to clear up the bikes there are still lots of them just littering the street in my area.”

Lime electric bikes require regular maintenance, and the bikes are collected by staff every 24 to 48 hours to recharge their batteries.

The significantly heavier than normal 35 kilogram bicycles would also be more difficult to dump than the average bike, but even so Rhiannon Soliman has doubts the business will succeed.

“The main difference between the Lime bikes and other share bikes is that the Lime ones are electric, so it’s much less of an effort to pedal compared to the other ones.”

“On the downside though, these bikes are pretty expensive. It cost me $8.50 for a 25 minute ride, which is of course a lot more money than the cost of public transport or even a hire car for the day if you look at it comparatively.”

“They were fun to ride, but not really worth the price. It’s more of a gimmick than a viable way of transport.”

Transport NSW and other regulatory bodies are considering limitations on the industry, requiring licencing or permits in order for share bike companies to operate, but until new regulations are in place no permission is needed to install share bikes around the CBD.