oBikes brings dockless bicycle sharing to Melbourne

Intrigued by the sudden appearance of these bicycles? We have the lowdown. Photo: Michael Rayner

Intrigued by the sudden appearance of these bicycles? We have the lowdown. Photo: Michael Rayner

By now you’ve noticed it: the sudden infiltration of Melbourne by shiny silver, black and yellow bikes. You might’ve found one parked in your usual bike rack. But what are they for and how did they get here?

Distributed by Singapore company oBike early last month, the pushbikes are part of what the company is calling Australia’s first dockless bicycle-sharing system.

The new scheme works differently from the blue bikes of the RACV-endorsed Melbourne Bike Share scheme, especially when it comes to picking up or dropping off. Bike Share has specific docking stations, while oBikes can be left at any public bike rack.

To borrow one, users download the company’s app and scan a QR code on the bike, then hit the road. Nor do oBikes need to be locked to anything at the end of your trip. They remain locked in a standing position until the next rider comes along.

oBikes

Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards is happy to see another bike-sharing option in Melbourne.

“Many cities around the world have multiple public bike options and anything that makes it easier for people to take the healthy transport option and ride a bike is positive,” Craig says.

“A more bike-friendly city will result in less congestion, less of a strain on public transport and healthier people. It would also create a much more liveable Melbourne that isn’t choked by cars.”

There are quite a few oBikes available if you're looking to try one out. Photo: Lauren Muscat

There are quite a few oBikes available if you’re looking to try one out. Photo: Lauren Muscat

At this stage, it looks like there will be plenty of yellow bikes to go around. If there is any shortage, the oBike app again comes in handy: Google Maps and GPS will help locate the nearest bike.

Bikes cost $1.99 for half an hour. The company has been successful in Singapore, marketing itself as a healthy, environmentally friendly alternative to conventional forms of public transport.

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