In news that will probably not surprise anybody, the ill-fated oBikes of Melbourne are set to vanish off the streets for good. Confirmed by Port Phillip Mayor Bernadene Voss and Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp, the move is a reaction to new guidelines imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, in which abandoned bikes blocking streets for more than two hours would prompt $3000 fines.
oBike was introduced to Melbourne a mere year ago, a station-less bike service which in theory is convenient — as users don't have to dock them at the end of a ride — but in practice resulted in abandoned oBikes being strewn all over the place, including many in the Yarra. The past year has also been rough waters for oBike in the media, with reports about violence being carried out with the bikes emerging (luckily, the target was just a train; unluckily, the damage totalled $300,000).
The abandoned bikes on the streets of Melbourne, of which there are many, are currently being rounded up, and the oBike storage facility in Nunawading has been cleared.
It's the next troubled chapter for bike sharing companies in Australia. Earlier this year in Sydney, oBike — and three other major bike rental operators Reddy Go, Ofo and Mobike — all had to comply with a new set of guidelines designed to target bike dumping and vandalism. Six Sydney councils developed the guidelines, focusing on the distribution and redistribution of the bikes post-ride, as well as timeframes for removal of faulty bikes on behalf of the bike company.
Mobike has its sights set on Melbourne next, so we can only hope that it's able to comply with council restrictions — and less of them end up as river pollution.