They may have proved a hit overseas, but here in Australia, dockless share bikes aren't about to win any popularity contests — at least not from the authorities. After making news for clogging up footpaths, sitting wedged up trees and being pulled out of waterways, the bikes are coming under some new rules in Melbourne.
The City of Yarra, City of Port Phillip and City of Melbourne councils have signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding with one of the main companies, Singapore's oBike, in an attempt to address the problems these rogue bikes have brought to Melbourne.
The new rules seem pretty straightforward, specifying oBikes must be parked upright, aren't allowed to block footpaths and have to be removed from any dangerous locations within two hours. Though with no more than ten oBike employees on the ground overseeing these three council areas, sticking to the rules won't necessarily be easy.
Currently, the councils impound any rogue bikes for 14 days, before they're destroyed and turned into scrap metal, with oBike stuck with a $50 fee to reclaim each bike.
According to Melbourne City Councillor Nicolas Frances Gilley, the share bike crackdown is about keeping Melbourne's streets safe. "At City of Melbourne, we are continually looking at ways to promote cycling and make it easier for people to use bikes," he said. "But the safety of all city users shouldn't be compromised in the process."
It will be interesting to see if these new restrictions make a noticeable change to the way oBikes are managed, and if Sydney follows suit with both its bike sharing services, oBike and Reddy Go.