How a Bike-Share Program Rekindled this Graduate Student's Passion for Cycling


Being in the country with one of the strictest lockdown rules in the world during the pandemic requires making adjustment to one’s freedom of movement. Even though blessed with a large geography and a small population, Australia left nothing to chance as they dealt with the first, second and third wave of the Covid-19 outbreak.

To protect its citizens and visitors, social distancing was firmly enforced and those without essential errands were advised to stay home. For graduate student Ria San Gabriel — a Filipina taking up Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Major in Design and IT at the University of Queensland — taking public transport still present a small risk of virus spread despite Brisbane’s almost zero Covid cases and firm observance of social distancing rules. Taking to heart Australia’s approach to the pandemic, she left nothing to chance.

A self-described leisure cyclist— who as a clumsy kid collected scars from road accidents — more than a cycling enthusiast, Ria learned about Brisbane’s bike-sharing program called “CityCycle”. “This was at the start of the pandemic and in the midst of the lockdown,” Ria said. “I signed up for membership together with my flat-mate Mai. For $3 (AUS) a month, we can rent a bike at any of the 150 plus stations located in close proximity to each other,” Ria adds.

If ever there was a silver lining to all the Covid rules implemented during the pandemic, that would have been the rekindling of Ria’s passion for cycling. “Cycling became my therapy, it is an effective way to clear my head,” she said. “Fewer transportation costs, lower carbon footprint, an easier way to go around the city. Riding became a lifestyle I embraced”

After 285 bike trips and experiencing how the city’s bike-sharing program did wonders to her mobility, Ria ended up recruiting three more of her friends to sign up. Not only that, Ria was also chosen to appear on a #WomenOnBikes video campaign where she commented on the underestimation of women’s cycling skills by men as a "stereotype we have to change altogether,” before advising others to embrace cycling and the “helmet hair” that goes with it.

"My favorite biking route is the one next to Brisbane river" - Ria

Bad News, Good News:

The Bad: Brisbane City Council decommissioned the bicycles used in its CityCycle bike-share program as of July 22, 2021.

The Good: They replaced it with e-bikes and e-scooters to attract more riders and meet the growing mobility needs of the city.

Well, though personally I would prefer that they keep the bicycles for health reasons, I'm still fine with the replacement e-bikes. Besides "E-bike is not cheating" according to one of the ten ladies featured in this video.


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