http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensl ... -lhuw.html
Cycle centre 'badly located, too expensive'CONAL HANNA
December 29, 2009 - 10:09AM Comments 9
A $7 million CBD cycle centre, jointly funded by Brisbane City Council and the State Government, is badly located, too expensive and has suffered from poor marketing, a report has found.
Cycle2City, operating out of King George Square Cycle Centre, opened in June 2008 offering storage for 420 bikes, change rooms, showers, lockers and a bike repairs workshop.
At the time it was lauded as an Australian first, but a report on the centre's first year, conducted by Griffith University, has found that with just 200 members there were growing question marks over the demand for the facility.
"The only concern with this first year of the Cycle Centre's operation is its lesser than expected membership, and the relatively slow (but continuing) growth in numbers experienced," the report said.
"The lack of members raises questions about the rigour of the demand surveys undertaken in the project development phase."
The report praised the role of the centre, which is owned by council and the government and leased to operators Cycle2City, in shifting commuter behaviour but recommended changing the fee structure, decreasing long-term membership costs and offering free or low-cost day-use bicycle storage.
"Were the Cycle Centre able to attract more members at a lower user fee, the travel behaviour objectives for which it was built would be maximised," it said.
Director Andrew Onley, who is yet to see a copy of the report, said the study had been conducted too early in City2Cycle's life to be beneficial.
"It was supposed to coincide with a year, that's true, but in reality, because we started in the winter of the year before, we only really cranked over in December (2008)," Mr Onley said.
"Something brand new, like this cycle centre, that had never been done before, to come in and do a full assessment realistically, six months after it's been cranked open, I think was too early.
"It takes a while for people to adjust to a whole new concept."
Mr Onley said the centre was "well over half full now" but could not provide specific membership figures.
He said costs had already been revised for long-term members, with six-month members now paying $4 a day instead of $5.
The facility now costs $5 a day for monthly users or $8 for casual users.
The report singled out the centre's marketing for particular criticism, saying it "was not a strength of the management team".
"Marketing to prospective members is not advanced and could be refocused," the report said.
Mr Onley admitted that he and business partner John Hack had learned a lot about the time taken to change people's habits.
"We never had a big marketing budget," he said.
"We thought it would be full straight away because everyone thinks it's a great idea. And people do.
"But just people making that change, to actually get out of your public transport or your car does still take a certain commitment.
"Getting from `Yes, it's a good idea' to `Yes, I'm going to join' is still a step, which we probably underestimated a little bit."
Mr Onley also agreed with the report's finding that the centre could be better located.
More than one third of Cycle Centre users walk more than 800m to reach their workplace, with a number forced to catch further public transport after riding to the city.
"The Cycle Centre isn't necessarily in an ideal location, distant from key employment precincts within the CBD and without significant street-front presence," the report said.
Mr Onley agreed, saying: "There's no doubt the key business precinct at the moment is down on Riverside. And that is outside the desirable walking distance (from the Cycle Centre).
"It's fine in winter but in summer it's a little bit further than we'd like. Ideally the next centre, it would be great to have one down in that precinct, for sure."
The report found that the Cycle Centre had eased the burden on public transport, with 73 per cent of its users previously on trains, buses or ferries.
Only seven per cent of users had previously driven to the city.
Acting Lord Mayor Jane Prentice said the Centre approximately freed up 76 bus seats, 54 train places and 16 more spots on CityCats.
"The Cycle Centre has therefore freed up two buses, half a CityTrain carriage and the front bow of a CityCat ferry every morning and afternoon peak hour," Cr Prentice said.
"These are small but significant contributions to tackling peak hour congestion in the city."
BCC contributed $3 million to the $7 million Cycle Centre, which was built in partnership with the State Government as part of the Inner Northern Busway.
Mr Onley said he was expecting to see a rush in new memberships as people sought to get fit in January.