Donald Tang, a University of Technology graduate who’s lived in Sydney for more than a decade, was fed up with never being able to find a car park. He’s also tired of being late.
“I’ve been walking around Sydney for 12 years, and as a mortgage broker, I meet my clients in the city on a daily basis. There’s no way to take a train or bus to my destination. After walking, I’m delayed for the meetings.” Tang says. He knows he’s not alone. “I’ve been talking with friends who have suffered similar situations, we’re all thinking if we can ride a bike it would be fantastic.”
Tang’s own bike-sharing start-up, Reddy Go, is launching in July. It will distribute 160 high-tech, red bicycles with GPS tracking systems at various locations around the CBD between July 10 and 15.
There will also be a pre-launch trial, starting tomorrow. Download the app (available later tonight on the Apple Store) and put down a $99 deposit, which will be refunded with a $100 voucher to be put towards future rides at the end of the trial.
The second shipment of 480 bikes will land in Waterloo in early August, followed by Macquarie Park and Chatswood later in the year.
Once you have the app and inserted your credit card details, an embedded Google Maps application will help you track down the nearest bike. Scan the QR code (located on the bike’s body) with your smart phone to unlock the free helmet (found in the basket), and you’re off. You can also reserve a bike up to 15 minutes before.
Dropping it off is just as easy. Cyclists will have to secure a safe spot (any designated, legal bicycle parking location), push down the in-built bike lock, and the cost of the rental will be deducted from your app.
Half an hour on the road will cost you $1.99.
Despite it being the first of its kind in Sydney, the wheels are already in motion in Melbourne with Singapore’s oBike launching there. “Our bikes will be better,” says Tang. “Sydney is not flat [like Melbourne], it’s up- and downhill. We designed our bikes with three-speed gears.” They only weigh 15 kilos, with solar power panels on the bike to keep the front and back lights charged.
On the front wheel, there is a small electricity generator; when the wheel turns it will recharge the batteries for the bike system. An old classmate, Binsen Tang, (founder of mobile gaming company Elex-Tec) was an investor in China’s third-biggest bike sharing company, Bluegogo, and will fund Reddy Go in Australia. Elex-Tech has built the app from scratch. Bluegogo will supply the red bikes.
Cities around the world have adopted the bike-sharing system and found it successful, from Europe, Taiwan and Japan to Korea and the UK.
Reddy Go was modelled off China’s model. “It works really well there. Billions of dollars have been invested. It’s becoming a significant part of people’s lives,” says Tang.