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Dockless bikes compromising public safety in Melbourne

by: NJM Group Marketing on

When you walk down the streets these days, silver and yellow bikes seem to be everywhere. Many are parked at bike hoops, while others have been carelessly thrown against a wall or parked at random on the foot path.

Made by Singaporean company oBike, the dockless bikes are just an unsolicited test batch. Hundreds more of them are waiting in Nunawading to be distributed in Melbourne after the official launch.

Unlike the well-organized blue Melbourne Bike Share Service, there are no designated docking stations for oBikes. Instead, cyclists have to park them in “any location eligible for bicycle parking” as oBike themselves put it. The penalty is twenty credits points, a cheap price that many are ready to give up in return for convenience.

A dockless system can’t control where the bikes are parked. It might try to incentivise cyclists, but during rush hour, when finding a spot can be particularly hard, it’s going to be too tempting to just leave the bike.

We have seen what happens when similar companies launch their dockless bikes in China, and it doesn’t look pretty. Pictures of a wall of bikes from Ofo and Mobike littering the streets of Beijing should make anyone wary of repeating the project in Melbourne.

The companies are unable to keep up with reparations when the bikes break. The bicycles are left twisted in the streets, of no use to anyone.

The bikes waiting in Nunawading won’t be waiting forever. What will happen, when they are introduced to the streets of Melbourne?

The mess won’t just be annoying: it will pose a public safety problem, potentially blocking roads and entrances for emergency vehicles. Pedestrians might be forced to leave the sidewalk if they can’t pass, and injury rates could climb as people try to move bikes on their own.

The City of Melbourne, VicRoads, RACV and other government bodies are constantly taking steps to improve infrastructure and public health and safety in Melbourne. oBike would hinder them in their work to ensure all public spaces are clean, cleared and accessible.

No other company is allowed to block the street with their products. Why don’t we expect the same accountability from oBike?

oBike’s dockless yellow bicycles aren’t the solution. It will be messy at best and at worst compromise public safety. The fleet of bikes in Nunawading are soon to be released. It will be interesting to see what will happen when they do.

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