In case you hadn’t noticed Sydney has a problem with dockless rental bicycles with both Councils and citizens alike complaining about the way they now supposedly clutter our footpaths. In some cases there’s been downright public hostility with bikes thrown onto roofs or dumped in waterways. Whilst many have embraced this cheap, pollution free means of transport, others have vented their fury.
One of the evening TV news broadcasts actually showed an angry elderly Sydneysider dumping discarded helmets in a rubbish bin – a ‘wonderful’ endorsement of road safety in its own right! Thankfully some of our more progressive Councils have suggested ways in which the rental bikes can be regulated with Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne leading the way. Byrne has met with a number of the bike share operators and hopes to establish a common plan for the five most central councils in Sydney – Inner West, City of Sydney, Randwick, Woollahra and Waverley.
How this will unfold remains to be seen but it’s a shame operators like the Singaporean based oBike, who have distributed their distinctive yellow bikes worldwide, didn’t approach their January Sydney startup with a more consultative and strategic plan. Perhaps they underestimated both the amount of community spirit and social co-operation that a city needs to embrace such a scheme. Whilst the latter is forthcoming in many Asian cities, there’s lots to suggest we have yet to reach that level of urban intricacy.
Put it simply we are still home to thousands of mean arsed bastards who get a thrill out of defacing public transport, stealing anything that isn’t nailed down and leaving a trail of garbage and cigarette butts wherever they travail.
Mercifully the anti-social brigade are in a minority but there’s enough of them to make life difficult for the various bike rental operators and those members of the public who welcome such schemes. And sadly, despite dedicated cycle paths and a number of public education campaigns, there’s still a strong antagonism towards cyclists in a city obsessed with motor vehicles and building even bigger tollways to accommodate them.
Maybe if we had wider streets like Melbourne and Adelaide as well as European like boulevards, instead of former cattle tracks now called roads, we would be more inclined to welcome the bike rental schemes that are now prevalent worldwide. In the meantime let’s hope some sanity can prevail and Councils will get together to both regulate the operators and ensure their financial future. Let’s also prosecute the morons who dump helmets in rubbish bins and throw bikes in the river.
Finally here’s an unlikely scenario for the apocalyptic future. Sydney is under immediate threat from a nuclear missile strike from Kim Jong Un. There’s a massive panic as millions of citizens flee the city in whatever mode of transport they can access. The roads are totally gridlocked and traffic has ground to an absolute standstill. Thousands of dockless rental bikes litter the city’s streets offering the chance to beat clogged exits and ‘weave’ your way to safety. Unfortunately they are all but useless. Some have been irreparably vandalised but the majority are still quite rideable. The problem is that are all unlockable – the Chinese and Singaporean companies that control the Apps to unlock them have long since left the country, totally disillusioned with the way they have been treated. Kaboom!