A little over a month ago, two bicycle sharing companies rolled out operations in Sydney: Reddy Go and oBike. We could debate the finer points of their operations and talk logistics all day (boy, could we!), but if you’ve noticed these bikes popping up around the city, basically the difference is: Reddy Go are the red bicycles, oBike are the yellow ones.

Reddy Go are roughly 7kg lighter, for what it’s worth, but basically, you’ll probably choose the closest, easiest bike each time, ‘cos surely that’s the main point of this service. You may also note that so far neither company offers playing/basketball cards to place in the spokes to make it sound like a dirt bike, but no doubt this feature, plus others, will be rolled out in good time.

With the cityscape now dotted with these confusing yellow and red mechanical contraptions of a quaint, Victorian nature, I reached out to each company to find out how things are going so far, what their expansion plans are,  and what they are going to do about The Helmet Problem Of Late 2017.

But first, a song.

Chethan Rangaswamy, Head of Marketing of oBike

A few weeks in, how are you finding the take-up in Sydney? Is it faster than expected? Slower?

We are happy with the rollout so far in Sydney. We have received positive and constructive feedback from the users, public and local government. Sydney-sides are free-spirited. Our dockless system will offer convenience and enable them to cycle to their preferred destinations. The numbers are doubling week on week. And as we are approaching summer we expect a spike in the adoption of bike-sharing.

We see bike-sharing being integrated as part of the wider public transportation. It will operate as an essential but complementary service to the entire transportation network.

What have been the first teething problems?

Smart dockless bike-sharing as means of public transportation is a new concept in Sydney. It is a common misconception that station-less means users can park their bicycles anywhere. oBike’s smart station-less concept enables users to park their bicycles at any designated public bike-parking areas nearest to them for their convenience. Public awareness regarding the benefits of bike-sharing is key to overcome these challenges.

Majority of oBikers are responsible users. Isolated incidents of unsafe parking and vandalism get reported via our feedback channels, our maintenance & services team will spring into action to address them in a timely manner.

Often I will see bikes around without helmets attached. What system is in place to ensure these helmets are available?

We use the following 3 procedures below at stage to ensure helmet availability:
1. As part of our routine check-ups by the maintenance & services team – missing helmets are replaced on a daily basis.
2. Any helmet with damage or dirt is removed and replaced.
3. We also encourage users to BYO helmet if they prefer.

What are your expansion plans for Sydney?

We conduct extensive research in each location that we deploy our bikes in, taking into account the Population, Transportation Habits, and the Bicycle Infrastructure availability to decide on the numbers of bikes to place at each location.

Currently, our team is in conversation with local councils around greater Sydney suburbs to rollout our bikes to complement the current public transportation.

Christy Geng, Marketing Director of Reddy Go

A few weeks in, how are you finding the take up in Sydney? Is it faster than expected? Slower?

It’s been received quite well. We got many positive feedbacks from our users. And there are a lot enquiries about when we are going to distribute in their areas.

What have been the first teething problems?

Some people not parking properly. Australia wasn’t traditionally a place for riding bicycles so many people are unsure of where they can park. We educate our users through our app, social media and website about good riding and parking behaviours.

Often I will see bikes around without helmets attached. What system is in place to ensure these helmets are available?

We have street staff checking conditions of bicycles everyday. One of their tasks is to refill the missing helmets. We also ask our users to lock the helmets through the loop to prevent theft.

What are your expansion plans for Sydney?

Reddy Go is a Sydney based company and sydney is our home. We’ll make sure Sydney market is operating well before expansion.

You have a competitor with oBike. Are you worried about other competitors seeing what you are doing and entering the market?

We are not worried about competition as long as it’s good competition. However we urge our potential competitors to take care of the bicycles so it doesn’t annoy people who don’t usually use a bike. If any one company not doing the right thing, the whole industry might be dragged down.

Reddy Go has a systematic way of managing our bicycles and user feedbacks. We hope any new entrants work as hard as we do to protect his market.

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