Vienna declares victory in war on dockless bikes

Ofo bikes parked in Paris, where operators have agreed with city authorities on a code of conduct to keep public spaces from getting cluttered with bicycles

City authorities in Vienna declared victory Tuesday in their clampdown on dockless bike sharing schemes which they said were cluttering up public spaces.

Under rules which entered into force on August 1, and which effectively ban such schemes, 780 bikes had been seized, authorities said, representing virtually all such bikes in the Austrian capital.

Last year Chinese operator Ofo and Singaporean company oBike both launched bike sharing schemes that used smartphone apps to run the service instead of the docking stations used in more established schemes.

Vienna has its own publicly-operated Citybike system, with 1,500 bikes available at 121 terminals in the city.

The ability to park oBike and Ofo's bikes anywhere was a convenience for users but city authorities complained they were becoming a nuisance in public spaces and operators were not repairing vandalised bikes quickly enough.

Initially, both schemes met with success in Vienna, with Ofo's fleet at one point rising to 1,800 bikes and oBike's to 700.

However, Ofo announced in July it was pulling out of the city after municipal authorites stepped up fines for illegally parked and valdalised bikes.

Most of the bikes seized belonged to oBike, which authorities say has been hard to contact since it fell into financial difficulties.

Dockless bike schemes have experienced huge growth in Asia since 2016 and launched in several European cities in 2017. New York also recently announced a pilot scheme whereby a handful of selected operators would be allowed to release a limited number of bikes onto the streets.

However the schemes have attracted negative headlines over vandalism and clutter.

In June authorities in Paris signed codes of conduct with operators of similar schemes to "prevent pavement blockages" and ensure the removal of faulty or illegally parked bikes.

Ofo bikes parked in Paris, where operators have agreed with city authorities on a code of conduct to keep public spaces from getting cluttered with bicycles