Review: Brisbane CityCycle Bicycle Hire Scheme

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I felt like I was flying along the bike path as the glowing sun rose over the mirror-like surface of the Brisbane River.  The sensations of those perfect moments created a sustained feeling of joy as I moved through the rest of my week.

I recently visited Brisbane for a week and was staying in the centre of the city.  The Brisbane CityCycle scheme caught my attention so I decided to hire a bike (three times!) and go for a ride to both get some exercise and make the most of being in the wonderful inner city location.  As a result I am well placed to write a review of the scheme from a visitor’s perspective.

In Front of the Storey Bridge in Brisbane, Australia with my CityCycle Bicycle.
In Front of the Storey Bridge in Brisbane, Australia with my CityCycle Bicycle.

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How the Brisbane CityCycle Scheme Works

The Brisbane CityCycle Scheme covers the entire inner city area.  As I walked and cycled around the CBD area it felt like there were CityCycle hire stands every couple of hundred meters.  As you move away from the city centre the bike stands are further apart, but they have been planned to intersect with public transport and key locations.

How Much Does the Brisbane Citycycle Scheme Cost?

Once you have paid for a daily, weekly, monthly or longer subscription you are able to use the bikes as many times as you like within that period, noting that the bikes can only be used between 5am and 10pm daily.  Every time you use a bike the first 30 minutes are no additional cost.  If you wish to use a bike for a longer period you will pay an additional fee which is dependent on how long you use the bike.  The bikes can be returned to any CityCyle Bicycle Stand, so you have great flexibility to move about the center of the city.

For casual visitors the daily cost starts at $2 for a single day subscription.  A weekly subscription will cost $11.  For longer hire periods or student rates see the CityCycle website.

If you ride for more than 30 minutes the additional fees start at $2.20 for an additional 30 minutes and the fees keep increasing from there.

You have to return the bike within 24 hours otherwise the bike is deemed to be stolen and you will be liable for a fee of $330 to enable replacement of the bike.  For this reason it is very important to ensure that when you return a bike that it has properly locked into position.

How to Purchase a Brisbane CityCyle Bicycle Hire Subscription

For casual visitors over the age of 17 years old the only way to arrange to hire a Brisbane CityCycle bike is online.  You cannot set up a hire directly at a bike stand.  Brisbane residents have the option of using their public transportation Go Card so check out this option on the website.

The CityCycle Subscription page is the place to start and is easy to use.  You enter your details, including your hire period and select a pin number.  You can then enter your credit card details and the system will issue a subscription number and remind you of the pin you selected.

Note down the subscription and pin numbers and that is sufficient to get started.

Brisbane CityCycle Bicycle Stand
Brisbane CityCycle Bicycle Stand

How to Release and Return Your CityCyle Bicycle

Releasing Your CityCycle Bicycle

Go to a CityCycle bike stand and have a look at the bikes and decide which bike you wish to hire.  From my observation approximately half of the bikes will have a helmet attached or in the basket.  Queensland bicycle rules require all bicycle riders to wear a helmet.  You should therefore select a bicycle which has a helmet.

Then go to the central console and it is very simple to enter your subscription and pin number.  You then select the bike number and you then have 30 seconds to go to the bike and gently press the button with the green light to release the bike.

Be very careful pressing the green lit button as it is quite sensitive.  On my first attempts I had a couple of issues where the bike would not release and I had to restart the process.  By the third time I hired a bike I realised that I had probably accidently pressed the release button more than once which had the effect of releasing and then relocking the bike.  Once I realised the sensitivity of the button I was subsequently able to get a bike released on my first attempt each time.  If you make this mistake it is not a problem, go back to the centre console and re-enter your details.

Once the bike has been released you can then reverse the bike out of the bike stand.

Returning Your CityCycle Bicycle

When you finish it is essential that you correctly return your bicycle to a CityCycle bicycle stand, otherwise it is at risk of being stolen and you may also be obligated to pay additional hiring fees.

Upon your return to a bike stand select an empty slot.  Ensure you remove your helmet and hook it onto the pedals before you lock the bike into the slot.  When you think it is locked in wait for a moment to ensure that the button is showing a green light and that you hear two beeps.  If this does not happen try again to relock the bicycle until you get the correct return signal.

About the CityCycle Bicycles

Once you have unlocked your bicycle have a closer look at your CityCycle bicycle.  At this point you can put the bike stand down and focus on getting yourself ready by putting on your helmet and adjusting the seat height.

The only adjustable item on the bike is the seat height, so ensure you do this first before you start riding.  Sometimes you may need to readjust it a couple of times until it is in the correct position for your height.

The helmets are also adjustable to suit your head size.  Just look inside at the rear and there is a small wheel which you can turn to increase or decrease the helmet to suit your head size.

You have two hand brakes – one for the front and one for the rear wheel.  There are automatically operated lights on the front and rear.

You also have three gears which can be controlled on the right hand handle.  The gears are operated by rotating the black plastic collar which sits beside the gear indicator.  On the first bike I hired the gears were very stiff initially and difficult to change but they progressively became easier to use through the ride.  On subsequent bikes the gears worked easily from the beginning.

The gears are enough to enable you to handle smaller hills, but I found that on steeper and longer uphill sections that it was easier to just walk the bike up the hill.  The CityCycle bikes are heavier than a conventional bicycle and with only three gears the lowest range gear is not low enough to easily ride up a bigger hill.

Overall I found the CityCycle bikes easy to handle and use.

Getting Around Brisbane by Bicycle

Brisbane is a great place to cycle.  Bicycle paths have been embedded into all of the city area roads, and there are also extensive dedicated bicycle paths.  Over my one week visit I hired the CityCycle bikes three times and really enjoyed riding on the Kangaroo Point, Riverside Walk, Bicentennial Bike Path and Gardens Point Cycleway.  I will provide more detailed information about these fantastic cycling routes in later articles.

Pleasant Cycling along the Traffic Free Bicentennial Cycleway in Brisbane
Pleasant Cycling along the Traffic Free Bicentennial Cycleway in Brisbane

Overall Recommendation on Whether to Use the Brisbane CityCycle Scheme

Overall I would definitely recommend that both visitors to and residents of central Brisbane should make good use of the CityCycle scheme.  It is really easy to use, and as a result of the system being planned to coincide with public transport you can easily take a one way bicycle hire and when you get tired just return the bike and hop on a ferry, bus or train to get back to where you started.

If you are sightseeing in Brisbane it is really easy to use the CityCycle bicycles to get around and visit the sights.

Apart from getting out in the fresh air, you have the extra benefit of getting some exercise and seeing some lovely views along the way.  The Brisbane bicycle pathways offer some great options to cycle safely for extensive distances without having to stop and be concerned about road traffic.

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