Melbourne's bike share service threatened as dumped cycles clutter city

Mel Buttigieg

A Melbourne bicycle sharing service could be banned after its dumped bikes started popping up across the city – some in the strangest places.

Pictures of the white and yellow pushbikes scattered across town – in rivers, strewn over fences, up trees and dumped on nature strips – have popped up online.

The scattered cycles have led Melbourne City Council to crack down on the dockless bikes.

Unlike the Melbourne Bike Share, which has designated pick-up and drop-off points, oBikes can be left anywhere convenient.

Picture: Trish Kelp/Facebook

The bicycle sharing services platform allows users to take short trips within the city by locating and hiring bikes through an app.

It launched in Melbourne’s CBD on June 15, then branched off to South Yarra and Carlton.

A bike was left up a tree in Kensington. Picture: Alex Smith/Facebook

According to the website, the app allows oBike riders to search for available bikes nearby and pick one up using a QR Code to “enjoy the freedom of riding oBike anytime”.

Once finished, oBike riders are asked to “lock the bike manually to end your trip and park at any location eligible for bicycle parking”.

Picture: Diana Hartshorn Nicoloudis/Facebook

“The bike should be returned in the designated public bike parking area or bike parking coil.”

Enrage by the cycling “clutter”, Melbourne mayor Robert Doyle said a better solution had to be found or it would be the end of oBikes in the city.

“We work hard to keep the city free of clutter. They are clutter and that must be fixed,” the mayor said.

“We are working with oBike but if an agreed solution is not found, this is the track we will have to take.’’

The council and Australian operators of the Singapore-based company oBikes have reportedly been in talks for weeks to try and come up with a solution.

A bike was dumped on an Ascot Vale garage roof. Picture: Christine Dahan/Facebook

An oBike spokesperson hoped the company and the council would find a solution, but admitted more needs to be done to raise awareness of how the bike-share scheme worked.

“We have to have education around how to park the bikes in a specific manner after usage,’’ said oBike Australia marketing head Chethan Rangaswamy.

Bikes left at the front of inner-city homes. Picture: Danielle McLennan/Facebook

But it appears that is too much trouble for many oBike users, who have instead abandoned their pushbikes at locations around town which are not designated for public bike parking.

The company has a local team designated to colleting the bikes from drop-off locations.

"Being a city dweller, bikes left at my front door and obstructing the footpasth is very annoying," one social media user complained.

A bike was thrown into the Yarra River but was later removed. Trish Kelp/Picture: Facebook

Another woman who reported the abandoned bikes on Facebook has told 7 News Online the oBikes recovery team was somewhat efficient in collecting the dumped bikes once they had been brought to their attention.

“It took them two days to respond, but when they did, they organised to have them moved,” Diana Hartshorn Nicoloudis said.

She said a third-party company was hired to physically collect the bikes and relocate them to an appropriate location.

“I certainly think they have teething problems but feel that the initiative is good and they are trying to make a workable solution or offering,” Ms Hartshorn Nicoloudis said.