Item 11.1 - Attachment 2

Bicycle Hire in the Parramatta City Centre







1.   This report is in response to a Lord Mayoral minute of 15 December 2008 that requested that a report be prepared for Council on the feasibility of a bicycle hire or lending service based in Parramatta CBD and advise on the appropriate model to best achieve this.


2.   A bicycle hire system provides bicycles that can be hired for use by the public for short periods of time as a transport option that complement existing transport choices.  To ensure success, the bicycle system should offer safe and comfortable bicycles in a secure and affordable manner, in convenient locations, supported by quality cycle infrastructure.


3.   A bicycle hire system offers the community a sustainable and healthy transport option as alternative to car use.  It can also facilitate tourism and become a tourist attraction itself. This report describes the different types of cyclists, the necessary cycle infrastructure needed and the different forms of bicycle hire system which should be considered when a cycle hire scheme is considered.


Council policies

4.   Council’s strategic direction as described below,  identifies the need to provide opportunities for cycling. A cycle hire scheme fits within these strategies.


5.   The 2009 Parramatta Bike Plan recognises the health and environmental benefits of cycling as both a mode of transport and for physical activity. The Plan outlines the future network of safe bicycle routes and facilities for both commuters and recreational cyclists in the Parramatta Local Government Area, including the city centre. The Plan’s aim is to provide the necessary infrastructure for 5% of the population to commute by bicycle by 2021.


6.   Sustainable transport, including cycling, is part of Councils long term vision to manage congestion within the city as the population grows. The City Centre Plan (2007) sets out a 25 year vision for 30,000 new jobs in the Parramatta City Centre by 2031 and an additional     20 000 residents.


7.   Parramatta City Council’s Twenty25 Strategy (2006) deals specifically with the importance of providing bicycle facilities with Destination 6 stating, “People and places are linked by sustainable transport and communication networks”.  The specific strategies for the future are to “increase the number of people walking and cycling particularly journeys within the neighbourhood” and also to “manage road congestion and safety while reducing the reliance on car use as a primary means of transport”.



Types of cyclists

8.   It is important to identify the different types of cyclist which may use a cycle hire system to understand their potential level of usage or conditions to encourage their use


10. Bicycle hire users can be summarised into five groups: everyday, occasional, recreational and non-bicycle owners. Bicycle hire systems can cater for all these groups, some more effectively than others.


Everyday cyclists

11. These are established cyclists who own a bicycle and use it regularly for commuting, local trips and recreational use. The 2006 census showed 0.04% commuter trips to the Parramatta city centre were by bicycle. They are competent cyclists and are comfortable riding a bicycle in most road conditions. A bicycle hire system would offer this group additional access to a bicycle when their own is either not available or when they are in a location without their bicycle.


Occasional Cyclists

12. These are cyclists that own a bicycle but use it infrequently. Fitness and environmental benefits of cycling are well known to this group.  These people tend to be time poor and cycle only when they have time or are focused on improving their fitness. The provision of cycle infrastructure, perceived road safety, traffic, level of fitness and level of experience also influences their decision to cycle.  A bicycle hire system would offer access to a bicycle when their own is either not available or when they are in a location without their bicycle and encourage this group to cycle more.


Recreational Cyclists

These cyclists own a bicycle and primarily cycle for leisure often off-road and in family group.  They also cycle to improve their health.  The reasons why this group do not cycle more frequently include not all family members own a bicycle, perceived road safety, traffic volume, low of level of cycling on roads and level of cycling infrastructure. A bicycle hire system would be attractive to this group as it would provide them with convenient recreational choice.


Non-Bicycle Owners

This group do not own bicycle but may have access to one.  There are various reasons why this group do not own a bicycle including unable to cycle, cost, lack of childhood bicycle use, lack of storage, residential location, local road conditions, lack of time, health, young family, perceived low level of road safety, traffic volume and lack of infrastructure.  A bicycle hire system would be attractive to some of this group as it would provide them with the opportunity to cycle but they would require a good level of cycle infrastructure to feel confident.



13. This group can include people from any of the above group but primarily they are people who are not local to the area and therefore unaware of the local road conditions, cycle infrastructure provided and road rules.  A bicycle hire system would be attractive to this group as it would provide them with convenient mode of transport to visit Parramatta’s local tourist destinations including Parramatta Park which is ideal for cycling.  A bicycle hire system could become an attraction in itself in the same way the Rivercat service has.  Importantly this group would easily use a system which only had a single operating location.



Infrastructure needed (network)

14. A key element in considering a bicycle hire system is the provision of cycle infrastructure within and around Parramatta city centre.  It is predicted that a significant proportion of bicycle hire users are likely to be Occasional, Recreational, non-bicycle owners and visitors cyclists who will need to be supported by comprehensive cycle infrastructure including high quality off road facilities to avoid interaction with traffic.


15. The streets of Parramatta city centre are not overly cycle friendly or conducive to cycling. There are some shared paths along the foreshore of the River. In addition there are several signed on-street cycle routes to and through the city centre as well as a small amount of cycle parking.  A significant proportion of streets within the city centre are multiple lanes and generally heavily trafficked during peak times.  The speed limit is generally 50kph with some small sections of 40kph and 60kph.  Also the one-way streets are not particularly favourable to creating  cycle friendly conditions.


16. The 2009 Bike Plan aims to address these issues and sets out key routes through the city centre to be implemented over the next five years. This will create a network of cycle routes to and around the city centre, connecting the existing cycleway facilities.  New infrastructure can be funded from Section 94 contributions, however maintenance cannot. Creating a separate Bicycle Maintenance Funding program will ensure that the outstanding cycle route maintenance issues can be addressed more quickly and effectively. 

17. A Bicycle hire system should not be introduced until such a time that it is considered that the cycle infrastructure within the city centre is sufficient to support a bicycle hire scheme.  This can be tested through consultation including the use of the Residents Panel, undertaking cycle counts and in consultation with the Cycleway Advisory Committee.  The 2009 Bike Plan and the draft Integrated Transport Plan for Parramatta City Centre are set to significantly improve this situation.


Types of Bicycle Hire Systems

18. There are broadly five modes of Bicycle Hire including cycle centres, European on-street schemes, those run by local authorities such as Local Government Councils and commercial bike hire provided by private providers.


Cycle Centres

19. Cycle centres are usually in the form of a shop and provide end of trip facilities for cyclists in city centres.  They typically include bicycle hire and also offer showers, secure bicycle parking, bicycle servicing, dry cleaning and a café. These centres are usually located in the heart of cities and close to public transport. Cycle centres are increasing being considered as leading edge in the promotion of cycling.  It is recommended that in the long term, Council’s Civic Place development consider including a Cycle Centre.  


European on-street bicycle hire

20. There has been a recent increase in this form of bicycle hire with significant media coverage due to its massive impact on increase cycle use.  These schemes are large scale on-street bicycle hire schemes.  The success of these scheme is due to the fact that they are free to use for the first 30 minutes and can be returned to any of the numerous bicycle hire points throughout the city and, therefore ideal for short local trips.  They also complement the typical inner city lifestyle of high levels of public transport use and walking and low cost ownership and use.


21. To address the issue of theft and vandalism the bicycles are unique with basic interchangeable parts not usable on other bicycles.  This type of bicycle hire is primarily funded by advertising revenue concessions from bicycle hire points and other street furniture. An additional success factor is that in Europe the wearing of bicycle helmets is not a legal requirement.  This makes the walk up use very attractive.  This is a significant issue yet to be addressed by Australia cities hoping to emulate their success.


22. In the past many European cities introduced free bicycle schemes and failed.  These were not bicycle hire schemes but offered the free use of bicycles left around the city.  It relied on the honesty of people to leave the bicycles in the public domain for the next user.  This system failed because the cycles were not managed or secured and quickly succumbed to theft and vandalism.


Local Authority

23. Adelaide Council, in partnership with Bicycle SA, launched Australia’s first free public bicycle hire system in 2007. It is a joint project funded by Adelaide City Council and Bicycle SA.  The hire is free from several locations across the Adelaide CBD during opening hours. Users must provide ID to hire the bicycle which is returned at the end of hire. Helmets are provided as part of the hire.  Each bicycle is fitted with a lock. Adelaide City also has a speed limit of 50km/h as well as bicycle lanes on majority of main roads and streets. This provides a high level of safety for cyclists. A safe cycling environment is essential for the success of any cycle hire model.


Commercial Bicycle Hire

24. There are numerous examples of successful public bicycle hire systems which as operated by private organisations. This service can be provided as a stand alone service, such as that found at Sydney Olympic Park and Centennial Park, or it can be attached to an already established business such as a bike shop. These businesses also offer a variety of bicycles and some expertise on issues such as helmet use and Australian road rules. This is particularly important for overseas visitors. This local knowledge includes advice on where to ride and routes  to avoid. For visitors this provides a level of security and peace of mind. For those users who may be local, this also gives an information source for future cycling activities. Most stand alone business are located in high visitor demand locations and also provide guided tours. This model can be from a permanent location, or building or can also be offered as a mobile service which can deliver bikes to various locations, such as hotels, on demand.


Community Bicycle Loans

25. The Western Sydney Cycling Network, established by Fairfield Council, promotes cycling as a healthy recreational activity and an effective means of transport for short distance trips. Bicycles are loaned for extended periods and are only available to residents of the Fairfield Local Government Area. This ‘bicycle library’ is not a bicycle hire service.

26. The success of any bicycle hire regardless of the models is a safe cycling environment; affordable (e.g. free for the first hour of rental); comfortable to use (bicycles that are easy and safe to ride); and a system with technology that prevents theft and vandalism.



27. A summary of the different models of cycle hire are in the table below –

Cycle Centre


Recognised as best practise. Purpose built facility which includes a shop font providing transport information, end of trip facilities, cycle hire, secure bicycle parking facilities, café and bicycle workshop. Can be part of new development or retro fit existing space. These facilities should be close to a transport interchange and be supported by a strong cycling infrastructure net work Initial investment is high however ongoing costs can be maintained to be low.

Key elements for Success -

Good facilities for occasional and established cyclists. A variety of services in the one location. 

Example -

Brisbane Cycle Centre -

Euro style


Stand alone ranks of unique bicycles which can be accessed by users via a swipe card. Bicycle hire stations compliment other public transport modes. Bicycles can be used for one way trips i.e do not have to be returned to rank of origin.  To avoid theft these bicycles need have no standard interchangeable parts. This requires specialist maintenance and replacement of components. Often tied with other street furniture contracts.

Key elements for Success -

Free hire for first 30 minutes. expansive network of ranks ,locations have established cycling culture, no compulsory helmet law

Example -


Local authority


Funded by local Council or other authority. Bicycles are available during business hours. Users must provide identification and a leave a deposit to hire the bicycle. Helmets and advice are also available.

Key elements for Success -

Safe environment for cycling. Locks are provided with bicycle to reduce theft.

Example -

Adelaide City Bikes

Commercial – attached to established business


This service can be provided as a stand alone service, such as that found at Sydney Olympic Park and Centennial Park, or it can be attached to an already established business such as a bike shop. It can also be a mobile service which is available at peak demand times.

Key elements for Success -

Hire can be subsided by other activities. Expert knowledge of operator of an area ensures a higher quality of user experience.

Example -

Manly Bike Tours -

Harvey Bay Cycles

Community enterprise model


Community enterprise model which supplies recycled bicycles to members of the public for extended loan. This model does not fit within the definition of a cycle hire system stated in this report

Key elements for Success -

This model relies on and fosters strong community networks. It provides bicycle for long term hire to members of the community who may not otherwise have access to bicycles

Example -

Western Sydney Cycling Network



28. The cycle hire model which may best serve the Parramatta City Centre in the long term is a cycle centre. Civic Place provides an opportunity to include a purpose built facility which will include end of trip facilities for all cyclists and encourage the use of sustainable transport to and from the city centre.

29. The European cycle hire model is not suitable for the city centre as the city centre is small compared to European cities such as Paris, London and Lyon. Also this type of cycle hire is yet to resolved the issue of the compulsory bicycle helmets laws which are in place in Australia which significantly impacts on the spontaneity of the European schemes.


30. In the current financial climate it is not recommended that Council bear the full cost of a cycle scheme such as those run by Adelaide Council. It would be more prudent to investigate a commercial partnership with a commercial cycle hire operator to a provide service in the city centre.  Council could subsides the scheme including funding the purchase of bicycles, lease of premises, purchase credits or operating costs.




31. It is recommended that further consultation is undertaken to clearly identity potential users and the correct model of a cycle hire service in the Parramatta City Centre and to carry out a cost benefit analysis to asses the economic benefit of providing a cycle hire service in the Parramatta City Centre.



32. The 2009 Bike Plan sets out new cycle routes for the next 5 years includes delivering new cycle routes to and around the city centre.  The draft Integrated Transport Plan for Parramatta City Centre is expected to be considered by Council during 2009/10 and is proposed to delivery significantly cycle improvements.

33. The proposed Civic Place development is gaining considerable momentum within 2009/10 when the provision of a cycle centre should be considered.



34. There is no funding in the 2009/2010 budget for the further development of a bicycle hire scheme for the Parramatta City Centre.


35. Council has applied to Federal Government Jobs Fund Council for a contribution to build a Parramatta Heritage Cycle Route (total project cost $1,712,150). If this proposal is successful this will somewhat improve cycle facilities in the city centre.


36. The Cycleways budget will continue to deliver new bicycle facilities in the City Centre funded by Section 94 contributions.


37. There is no specific maintenance budget to improve or upgrade existing cycle routes   It is recommended that an annual budget of $50,000 would address this ongoing issue.


Recommendations –


1.   THAT Council continue to improve cycle facilities in the city centre to a high standard to provide a safe environment for cyclists. Until this time a cycle hire scheme should not be implemented in the city centre.


2.   THAT Council consider committing $50,000 in future budget allocations for cycleway maintenance.


3.   That Council consider including a Cycle Centre as part of the proposed Civic Place development.



Myfanwy Lawrence                                            

Project Officer – Transport Planning

Land Use & Transport Planning