More share bikes coming

By Sunny Liu

The clutter of dockless share bikes looks set to increase with more dockless bike share operators launching in Melbourne this year. 

And, with state and local governments insisting the other is responsible, a regulatory response is looking increasingly unlikely.

The City of Melbourne has confirmed that, in addition to oBike, some dockless share bike companies have expressed their intention to tap into the Melbourne market.

Council would not disclose the names of the share bike companies, but it is understood that most of the companies are coming from Asia, such as Ofo, Mobike and Reddy Go.

Chinese company Ofo has recently launched with hundreds of bikes in Sydney and Adelaide and is likely to bring its services to Melbourne.

“Ofo will continue expanding its fleet to other Australian cities in 2018 when the time is right to do so,” an Ofo spokesperson told CBD News.

Reddy Go has confirmed with CBD News it was planning for a Melbourne launch.

And Beijing-based Mobike pumped its bikes onto Sydney streets last year and is understood to also be planning a Melbourne expansion in coming months.

The dockless feature of these share bikes means users can unlock bikes with a mobile app without having to park them at designated locations.

Just like the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with oBike last October to set operating standards, the City of Melbourne, Port Philip and Yarra will offer a MOU with these new companies.

Under the MOU, oBike has agreed to ensure that bikes are parked at appropriate locations and damaged and dangerously placed bikes be removed within 24-48 hours.

The City of Melbourne said the MOU had improved clutter around the city but would not eradicate the issue.

Robert Doyle has previously indicated that regulating dockless share bikes would be the state government’s responsibility.

“We’ve signed the MOU and all I can say is that their compliance seem to be better in the City of Melbourne. Nevertheless, it’s still not ideal,” he said.

A City of Melbourne spokesperson said local government had limited power to regulate share bikes.

“While the MOU is a step in the right direction, the development of dockless bike sharing requires specific regulatory responses that are not currently available to local governments,” the spokesperson said.

But the state government disputes this, maintaining the council are responsible for regulating share bikes.

“Managing share bikes is entirely the responsibility of local governments. Local governments have the power they need to regulate share bikes,” a state government spokesperson said.

“The footpaths that the share bikes are obstructing are owned and managed by the local governments and the three local governments have already introduced their regulations to address the issue,” the spokesperson said.

Minister for Roads Luke Donnellan said: “We’ll continue to work with local councils to ensure they have the powers they need to manage the challenges posed by this emerging industry.”

“We have always said that while we welcome innovation and efforts to get more people on bikes, any operators in this space must comply with local laws and meet community expectations.”

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