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Public Transport Victoria (PTV) used human-centred design research to explore the future of the Melbourne bike share scheme.

  • Research
  • Service Design
  • Futures

Five years after its introduction to Melbourne, the bike share scheme was recording extremely low usage. On average, each bike was being used 0.6 times a day, well under the global benchmark of two daily uses, and a world away from the best global examples, which can see over 10 uses a day.

While PTV were originally looking to do a standard usability audit of the service, we soon discovered that to truly understand the issues and opportunities of the scheme, we would have to go much broader. We combined user research, co-design, benchmarked of other services and technologies to paint a picture of what the service could become.

We chose to use co-design methods to be more constructive around how users saw the future of the scheme, rather than create another list of things that are wrong with it in the past. We picked apart the usability of the kiosks and the bikes themselves, but also provided new target markets and service offerings.

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A designer un-docks a Bike Share bike

Our design research team got amongst the bike share community and spent time with them, shadowing their journey, and getting them to capture media for us on helmet-mounted cameras. We included those people in ideation sessions, working with us to generate new ideas on how to improve the service.

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360° helmet cams given to research participants captured a montage of the bike share journey. This approach to remote observation showed us clear gaps in infrastructure, and when talking through the ride pictures participants mentioned moments when they were lost, worried about time limits or didn’t feel safe.

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Collaborative co-design sessions saw the design team map current pain points and generate new ideas for the bike share experience.

We used visual prompts and stimulus with research participants, outlining future-focused service concepts and the application of emerging technology. This allowed us to think forward, not getting stuck in the limitations of the current state.

We were investigating locations around the city with lower current usage, but also looking at higher growth zones – areas likely to experience higher use in 10 years' time. PTV saw a lot of value in using human centred design techniques, and are now taking the methods and principles to their wider team, to demonstrate its value.

Close up photograph of the Bike Share vending machine

Public Transport Victoria received a far broader, more practical outcome than they were initially expecting (in a usability audit). There's now a much clearer understanding of pain points and barriers – but also a thorough understanding of what people really want and need from a bike share scheme.


Our project was coupled with extensive secondary research, helping PTV identify emerging user groups for the Bikeshare scheme. Once we understood who the most likely future users might be, we were able to involve them in co-designing concepts for a better service.