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‘No thought’: EPA boss slams oBike rollout amid new crackdown

The Age, 30 May 2018
Bike share company oBike will be hit with hefty fines of $3000 for each dumped or damaged bike it fails to collect within a certain timeframe under a crackdown announced by the Environmental Protection Authority on Wednesday. The head of Victoria’s environmental authority has slammed the dockless bike share company for the way it entered the Melbourne market, declaring tough new regulations will send a clear message to the Singaporean-based oBike that it needs to “lift its form”.

The EPA has issued a litter abatement notice to the company, which will be enforced in part by the City of Melbourne, and it has demanded it present them with a management plan and publicity plan by June 13 or be fined $3171.40 for every week the reports are delayed.

EPA chief executive Nial Finegan said the EPA was not “anti-oBike” and he supported more cycling in Melbourne. But he criticised the way company had established itself in the city from last June.

“The experience people had of oBike … was they dumped these bikes and that’s led to frustration in the community and the hazard they have created. A little bit of forethought is what we would expect of any reasonable business. They failed to give it any thought,” he said.

“It’s not a cost Victorians are willing to bear. We value our environment and by imposing the fine we are encouraging them to do what they should have done in the first place.”

“It isn’t about cycling, it’s about a business that’s come in and shown little regard or understanding of the environment … I’m agnostic as to the future of the company.”

The new rules for oBike, which will come into effect on June 5, include:
• Two hours to remove a bike creating a hazard
• 24 hours to remove both damaged and vandalised bikes
• 24 hours to remove a cluster or group of bikes
• 48 hours to remove a bike if it is stuck up a tree or on a roof
• Seven days to remove a bike if it’s in a waterway

If bikes aren’t collected in these time frames , the company will be fined $3000 per bike.

“The operator hasn’t chosen to work with us in the way we wanted them to, so we will impose rules on them,” said Mr Finegan.

“If oBike don’t respond or meet the standards, I think the next call for us would be something called section 62, which means the bikes have been abandoned and we will just seize them and send them the bill.”

It comes as the City of Adelaide council ordered oBike out of the city after it granted the company a permit to operate in October last year.

“As of today, there are less than 10 oBikes positioned within the council area, so we believe the company has ceased operating in the City of Adelaide,” a council spokesman said.

“We have written to oBike to officially state that it must cease operating as a business within the City of Adelaide and to remove any bicycles from council’s roads within a week.”

The yellow rental bikes have been controversial is Melbourne, with more than 100 fished out of the Yarra River since the company started operating in the city in June last year.

The City of Melbourne will now be given the powers to enforce the new laws.

The EPA will also meet with the City of Yarra and City of Port Philip in the coming days as part of a Memorandum of Understanding with oBike to reduce bike clutter in the inner-city.

“We will hold (oBike) to account,” said Mr Finegan.

oBike have been contacted for comment.