You can’t help but notice. Sydney streets are now full of as many as 2000 yellow oBike bicycles, along with the several thousand Reddy Go bikes which launched in early 2017.
When both companies have finished their roll-out, Sydney will have as many as 10,000 rental bikes on the streets of the CBD and inner suburbs by the end of the year, available to those who download the app, pay the deposit $69, and pedal for $1.99 per half hour.
It’s been a divisive move. Some people see it as a great and progressive addition to urban mobility, while for others it’s like an invasion of insects falling from the sky, a plague on our streets.
In Melbourne, some people are doing everything with the bikes apart from riding them.
Around 40 bikes were fished out of the Yarra River, thrown in by angry pranksters calling them urban “vermin”, while one wag uploaded a video of him “fishing” for a bike like an urban Steve Irwin. Other people are practicing their surrealist skills and putting them up trees.
One bike did come in handy when someone grabbed it and threw it under a car driven by a masked teenager going crazy with a knife in Melbourne’s Flinders Street, but such extreme events are rare.
Urban Village got in touch with oBike to find out more, and had an email exchange with company spokesperson Chetham Rangaswamy.
He acknowledges there have been some issues, but says it hasn’t all been negative.
“Since our launch, we have had a few who abused our bikes either by dismantling them or throwing them into canals. This was disappointing,” said Rangaswamy.
“But we had a few bright sparks. For every abuse case, there had been many more who exhibited positive riding behaviors. We urge all users to treat our bikes as if they would their own.”
Rangaswamy sees it as an educational process.
“Bike-sharing is still in its infancy stage now. As such, many cyclists are still not fully aware of the correct behaviors required to develop a socially gracious and courteous community of riders,” he says.
So, what’s the message for riders? Be polite, gracious, download the app and give it a go.
oBike is a commercial businesss, so its success or failure will be determined by how many of us get pedaling.