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Melbourne’s oBikes face impounding under anti-clutter crackdown

The Guardian, 17 October 2017
The operators of the distinctive yellow bicycles littering Melbourne will have two hours to move bikes left in dangerous places or face fines. Dozens of dockless bikes have been thrown up trees, on to train tracks and dumped in rivers by their users.

Now the Melbourne, Port Phillip and Yarra councils have signed an agreement with bike share operator oBike to control where they are left.

The agreement holds oBikes responsible for ensuring bikes aren’t randomly left on footpaths, roadside kerbs, traffic islands or against trees, buildings, light poles or street furniture.

Dangerously placed bikes – including those left on roadways – have to be moved within two hours, while inappropriately placed bikes have to be moved within 48 hours.

Councils will also be able to impound any bikes breaching the rules and charge operators a $50 release fee for each bike.

The City of Melbourne councillor Nicolas Frances Gilley said while cycling was great for health and helped reduce inner-city traffic, safety was paramount.

“The safety of all city users shouldn’t be compromised in the process,” Frances Gilley said on Tuesday.

“The signing [of the agreement] is a step in the right direction for sustainable transport options like oBike and a safer, clutter-free environment for bike users and pedestrians.”

The three councils have also requested the Victorian government establish laws on bike-share schemes, as several “larger companies” have signalled their intention to launch similar schemes in Melbourne.