oBikes. The thing that absolutely no one asked for that no one can escape. Truly, the ‘U2 album auto-pushed to every iPhone on the planet‘ of transport industry ~*disruption*~.

The godforsaken yellow-and-grey bastards began appearing throughout major Australian cities in August, and almost immediately began spreading out like reproducing bacteria; infecting various little pockets of metro streets to the point where it’s almost impossible to turn around without seeing one.

When Melburnians got sick of the bikes taking up sidewalk space all over the shop, they apparently took the novel step of simply tossing them into the Yarra River, leading to the creation of the curiously fruitful sport of oBike Fishing.

Quite obviously, the retrieval of these bikes from the river (as well as of at least one bike from the end of St Kilda Pier, if the oBike GPS locator app is to be believed) costs councils a fair amount of time and coin. And as of now, they’re putting their foot down.

Three Melbourne councils – the Melbourne City council, as well as the Port Phillip and Yarra councils – have announced a crackdown on the dockless bike system, revealing they’ve signed a memorandum of understanding with the Singapore-based oBike group that puts the onus on the company to keep their shit in order.

The MOU will hold the oBike company responsible for any bikes that are left obstructing footpaths, or parked against trees, buildings, or street furniture, and it also cracks down on excessive numbers of bikes left in any one spot.

It means that any bike found to be parked dangerously has a two-hour window to be picked up by company officials. Failure to do so will see the bikes impounded by council workers, with their release carrying a $50 fee that must be paid within 14 days. “Inappropriately” placed bikes face a 48-hour window before suffering the same fate.

This move follows on from a similar crackdown by Sydney’s Randwick City Council, which is expected to force the company to install designated bike parking areas in a bid to address the issue.

Meanwhile, the godforsaken things are still finding themselves in some rather creative spots.

Technology and innovation. It’s good, actually.

Source: The Australian
Image: Getty Images / Brook Mitchell