Cycling adventures: step-through city bike

Cycling adventures: step-through city bike


Hi, I’m Daniel Oakman, senior curator
at the National Museum of Australia and welcome to my
cycling adventures. I’m heading to Melbourne where I’ll be spending the afternoon
riding the public bike share network. Like hundreds of cities
around the world, Melbourne has introduced
a bike share system which allows people to rent bikes
in one location in the city and deposit them in another. I have come to Melbourne to spend the afternoon
using the system riding around the city. And even though I grew up here, I’ve never actually ridden
a bicycle around the city centre. Hiring the bikes is incredibly simple and for a pretty small outlay I have
access to bikes all afternoon. The bikes themselves are sturdy,
robust, upright, Dutch-style bicycles. They are quite heavy, and
Melbourne is certainly not flat so at times some low-geared
pedalling is required. The best thing about
riding these bikes is that I am getting around much faster
than I would by walking or by tram. The footpaths and trams
seem very congested, so cruising about on these bikes –
even if they are a little clunky – feels very free and liberating. Yet the infrastructure
which might support the wide separate use of bicycles
in the city isn’t great. And I have experienced some of the
challenges of riding in the city, such as dangerous intersections,
disappearing bike lanes and being forced to compete
with merging car traffic. Bike tracks also merge
with pedestrian areas, which is also call for
some careful manoeuvring. Riding along Swanston Street with the
trams has also been interesting. Like cars, bike riders have to wait behind
stationary trams as passengers get on and off. So if you can’t get past the
tram when it’s moving, you will only move as
fast as the tram. Yet despite some of the difficulties,
I am a fan of these bike hire systems. Because I am using less energy to cover the same distance I’m more inclined to take detours
and follow lesser-known pathways. As a result, I’ve seen new sides to the city that before now I had never cycled through. I also feel safe, able to zoom off if you happen to end up somewhere
or near someone a little bit dodgy. I’ve also been freed from the responsibility
of looking after my own bike. So when I want to dump the bike, go for a walk,
visit a museum, gallery or do some shopping, I just check the bike back in. When I’m ready for a bike again, I just go back
to the station, get another code and head off. I’ve even had enough time to
get down to Port Phillip Bay before working my way
back into town. So I think with a little tweaking,
this system will get better and hopefully will be at the
forefront of people’s minds when they think about exploring
the city, spending a day in town or simply need to get from
one side to the other that may not be directly
serviced by a tram. Thanks for watching and I’ll see
you on my next cycling adventure.