Cycle hire schemes may have been sold to cities around the world as being positive for the environment and good for our health, but scientists say neither traits are true.

According to new research, these are 'false solutions' and the bikes, like the privately funded cycle share service OnzO in Auckland, are not living up the promises.

In many cities the number of vans used to ferry the bikes between docking stations means that they do not cut carbon dioxide emissions either, the study found.

According to the researchers, the bikes aren't having a positive on public health, since they are predominantly used by wealthy white men who are already in shape.

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Researchers suggest there are around 1000 cycle hire schemes globally which are likely to be used by a similar demographic.

The latest comments were made by Cyrille Médard de Chardon of the University of Hull during the Royal Geographical Society annual international conference, which was held at Cardiff University.

According to The Times of London, Dr Médard de Chardon said the schemes do not improve health, reduce CO2 emissions, or reduce congestion on the roads.

"In London's Chancery Lane for example, bike docking stations frequently become empty and are topped up throughout the day by vans that contribute to pollution," the new report found.

"The total amount of carbon produced from the vans is not offset by the amount saved from use of the bike share scheme."

In 2010, then London mayor, Boris Johnson pledged to bring in the scheme to the UK capital through a deal with a private company.

However, it is believed the official London cycle-hire scheme now costs taxpayers more than £11 million (NZ$22m) a year.

Most bikes do less than two trips a day, leading Dr Médard de Chardon to question whether it was a good use of public money, which could have instead been used to build wider cycle lanes and secure bicycle parking.

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Former Mayor of London Boris Johnson (L) cycles with former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger in front of City Hall in London in 2011. Photo / Getty Images
Former Mayor of London Boris Johnson (L) cycles with former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger in front of City Hall in London in 2011. Photo / Getty Images

The provision of bikes is greatest in city centres meaning people on the outskirts, who are likely to be on lower incomes and in greater need, do not benefit.

Describing it as a "false solution", Dr Médard de Chardon said it was "worrying that we are getting bike share schemes instead of concrete improvements to transport infrastructure."

However, earlier this year, the city's transport minister admitted the speedy expansion of cycle "superhighways" has actually slowed traffic for motorists.

Mike Brown, the commissioner for Transport for London, criticised the cycle lane expansion in London as "ill judged" and "ill thought through".

He apologised to motorists who say that the segregated cycle lanes are exasperating traffic problems.

Cycling groups, council chiefs and safety campaigners say that the lanes reduce congestion and pollution and that they make the roads safer.

Barclays Cycle Hire (BCH) is a bicycle sharing scheme in London, known as 'Boris Bikes', after Boris Johnson, who introduced the scheme. Photo / Getty Images
Barclays Cycle Hire (BCH) is a bicycle sharing scheme in London, known as 'Boris Bikes', after Boris Johnson, who introduced the scheme. Photo / Getty Images

But the lanes have infuriated some drivers who claim they are stuck in traffic for longer because part of the road has been taken over by bikes.

Earlier this year, ride-hailing app firm Uber announced plans to expand its US-Based electric bike-sharing service, "'Jump Bikes", across Europe.

Like Auckland's OnzO Bikes, these cycles do not use docks across the city, allowing customers to leave them in any public bike rack at the end of a journey.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said: "This is potentially a replacement for Uber trips so that we can be bigger than just cars."

He also said the service could help combat traffic in cities - something that Uber has been criticised for making worse in the past.

The expansion comes after Uber bought Jump in April, the firm's first acquisition since Khosrowshahi joined as CEO last year.

The company already offers Jump bike rides in Washington D.C., San Francisco and other California cities.

Bike share: An OnzO bike was abandoned in Auckland's Mt Eden crater. Photo / Merrion Baker
Bike share: An OnzO bike was abandoned in Auckland's Mt Eden crater. Photo / Merrion Baker

Users access bicycles through the same Uber app used to hail taxis and are sent a PIN to unlock the bike they choose.

While this dock-less system is designed to free up riders and reduce the need to drive bikes to docking stations, it has caused more problems.

In June, an OnzO bike was found in the crater of Mount Eden, others are locked in private property and at least one of the publicly owned bikes has been listed for sale through Trademe.co.nz.

On this episode of Deadliest Catch.

Posted by OnzOs in weird places on Monday, 28 May 2018

There's even a Facebook page dedicated to the phenomenon called OnzOs in weird places.

With OnzO's 1260 bikes left on the streets of Auckland much of the bicycle sharing scheme's premise relies the good faith of users.