This Is What Happened In Australia When They Tried To Roll Out Shared Bicycles
This is why we can't have [environmentally] nice things.
The Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne are in a bit of a shambles at the moment after the bike-sharing services rolled out by both cities angered residents and resulted in dozens of bright yellow (and red) bikes strewn across parks, slung into trees, and thrown into rivers.
Melbourne was the first city to get in on the new, dockless bike-sharing scene, calling on Singapore startup oBike to stock the city's streets with yellow bikes riders can use at a whim via an app downloaded to their phone.
Hitting Melbourne's streets in June, the shared cycles have since pissed off a lot of people.
Now, any bikes found to be "illegally dumped" (not parked in an appropriate location) are being impounded by the council.
The impounding movement comes after Melbourne residents took it upon themselves to rid their streets of the yellow cycles. Here are just a few of those citizen-enforced impoundments:
On Tuesday, 42 oBikes were fished out of Melbourne's Yarra River. oBike responded with this Facebook post, from the perspective of one of the bikes, which can presumably hold its breath for a long time.
It was a whole thing...
And the phenomenon has inspired everything from videos of people jokingly "fishing for oBikes"...
To entire Instagram accounts dedicated to the "lonely yellow bikes of Melbourne."
In Sydney, shared cycles were sourced from two startups – oBike and the Australian business ReddyGo. Share cycle use has just started picking up in the city and calls have been made to Transport NSW to work out an approach for the impending littering of bikes.
And it would seem that, for now at least, Sydney is about to go through much of the same experience as Melbourne.
A spokesperson for oBike told BuzzFeed News the company was urging users to treat bikes as if they would their own, allowing everyone to benefit from the service.
"Since our launch, we have had a few who abused our bikes either by dismantling them or throwing them into canals," said the spokesperson.
"This was disappointing. But we had a few bright sparks. For every abuse case, there had been many more who exhibited positive riding behaviors."
"Bike-sharing is still in its infancy stage now. As such, many cyclists are still not fully aware of the correct behaviors required to develop a socially gracious and courteous community of riders. This leads to issues such as the indiscriminate parking and vandalism. We are committed to engaging the public for ongoing education on cycling etiquette."
"We see bike-sharing being integrated as part of the wider public transportation. It will operate as an essential but complementary service to the entire transportation network. We want to make sure we have a sustainable relationship with our Users, Public & the Local Authorities, work closely with the transportation providers and urban planners to offer oBike as the eco-friendly mode of transportation to support the current infrastructure."
Marg Prendergast, the coordinator general at Transport NSW, told BuzzFeed News the government was working closely with councils and bike share operators to address issues that may arise.
"In the age of disruption, we are seeing more and more business models that think outside the box," she said.
"When it comes to the ‘dockless bike share’ model – local government legislation places the responsibility of footpaths and local roads with councils."
"However, there are no specific provisions to regulate the operation of a dock-less bike share."
"We are working closely with councils and bike share operators to monitor the trials underway across Sydney and we will actively address issues that may arise."