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Photo of Lime bikes divides internet: 'Protected species'

The share bike service was introduced in Australia in 2017, but there are still some 'teething issues' an expert says.

A seemingly inoffensive picture has stirred online debate about electric bikes and their place in Aussie cities.

A row of nine electric Lime bikes — share bikes which users can jump on and off at their convenience — can be seen neatly placed side-by-side on a Bondi street, with the Monday evening walker displeased that so much parking space was being taken up by them.

"I hope each one of these bikes has got a residential parking permit!" the walker wrote.

A row of Lime bikes can be seen parked on the side of the road.
This image of the Lime bikes sparked debate about where electric bikes should be left in our congested cities. Source: Facebook

Debate over where electric bikes should be parked divides opinion

The poster made their opinion well-known, disgruntled by the fact the bikes were using potential car parking spots when there is already a shortage of parking in the city. Others shared a similar opinion and agreed bikes were like "protected species".

However, many believed the alternative to having electric bikes parked on the road was far more inconvenient.

"For those with prams and other mobility issues, these bikes are often placed on entire footpaths by operators or left there [by riders]," one wrote, sharing people often trip over them when left in random locations.

Left, Lime bikes on road. Right, a Lime bike left obstructing a footpath.
Some argued leaving the electric bikes by the side of the road was more convenient than having them randomly discarded by users. Source: Facebook

Debate is result of a required transport 'transition'

"Basically the way that cities evolve in a situation like this is that bikes are parked randomly, and in some cases, with a low level of consideration for other road users," Head of Institute of Sensible Transport Dr Elliot Fishman told Yahoo News Australia. "The public get frustrated by that."

However, Dr Fishman noted how most city residents forfeit large areas of space for car parking, and teething issues are inevitable on the journey to integrating more sustainable transport in our major cities. "It is part of the transition."

Companies that provide share bikes have been in Australia since 2010, with the first described as "docked" bikes which had a fixed parking station. Users were charged for the duration of time the bike was way away from the dock, but "dockless" — like the Lime e-bikes in the discussed photo — were introduced in 2017, according to Dr Fishman.

With companies like Lime not having docking stations to install, "dockless" bikes are much more economical for providers, and riders being able to leave the bike wherever they want also improves the user experience.

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