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Shared oBikes could vanish from Aussie roads as Lord Mayor considers ban

Ian Royall and Jack Boronovskis, August 10, 2017 7:15PM Herald Sun

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oBike taped to a pole. Picture: Instagram media_cameraoBike taped to a pole. Picture: Instagram


Reading level: red

THE future of a bike-sharing initiative in some of Australia’s biggest eastern cities is at risk after complaints the bright yellow bicycles are littering the urban landscape.

OBike aims to create a network of easy and cheap transport options for short inner-city trips by offering bikes with dockless locking systems. This means the bikes can be picked up and dropped off anywhere.

But no one expected that would result in them being taped high up on signposts, left on the top of portaloos or dumped in rivers.

Melbourne’s Lord Mayor has declared he’s sick of the dockless* bikes cluttering his city.

oBike in a tree. Picture: Ian Royall media_cameraoBike in a tree. Picture: Ian Royall

“We work hard to keep the city free of clutter. They are clutter and that must be fixed,” Cr Doyle said.

The council and operators of the oBike scheme have been in talks for several weeks to fix the problem but Cr Doyle said if no solution could be found they would be axed*.

So far the green initiative has rolled into Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast, as well as Singapore, Malaysia, London and other overseas locations.

But it has caused issues in other locations other than Australia.

The European city of Amsterdam, a metropolitan* hub rich with cycling tradition, this week banned the dockless bikes because they were clogging up scarce parking spaces.

A mess of bikes. Picture: Jason Edwards media_cameraA mess of bikes. Picture: Jason Edwards

Cr Doyle said the City of Melbourne may take a similar stance.

“We are working with oBike but if an agreed solution is not found, this is the track we will have to take.’’

OBike Australia head of marketing, Chethan Rangaswamy, said the education of users was crucial.

“We have to have education around how to park the bikes in a specific manner after usage.”

He said each city was different and the company was working with councils on how to best manage the scheme.

Unlike other bike share programs like Melbourne Bike Share or Brisbane’s CityCycle, which have designated pick-up and drop-off points, oBike lets users find and book available bikes through GPS on an app.

oBike on the toilets. Pic: imgur media_cameraoBike on the toilets. Pic: imgur

Such is the extent of the dumping problem, oBike has a team designated to fetching the heavy single-speed bikes from inappropriate drop-off locations.


dockless: without a permanent place to be docked
axed: cut
metropolitan: city

premise: idea
convenient: useful and easy



Activity 1. What’s the issue?

Read or listen to the article carefully.

In your own words, explain what the problem is.

Why is clutter a problem in the city?

Who is at fault? Who is causing the problem?

Who is trying to fix the problem?

How long has oBikes been operating in Melbourne?

Extension: Positives and negatives

Discuss with a partner the positive and negative effects of this bike sharing system on our capital city.

Think about their effect on the city, the riders’ time and convenience, the riders’ and the public’s health and safety and the environment.

Draw up a table with two columns for positive and negative and write your ideas under the correct heading.

You can find out more about oBikes cycle sharing system on their website:

After considering the positive and negatives, do you think oBikes should continue to operate?

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: English, Science, Health and Physical Education, Ethical Capability

Activity 2. Solution

According to the article both oBike and the Melbourne City Council have been in talks to find a solution to this problem. Can you help them out?

Think of a solution to this problem that keeps everyone happy.

Write a letter to the operators of oBike and the Melbourne City Council explaining your solution and why you would like this bike sharing system to remain in business.

Extension: The new and improved oBikes system!

Draw up a new advertisement for oBikes that includes your solution to this issue.
Make sure your advertisement covers how this system now benefits everyone.

Time: allow 40 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: English, Critical and Creative Thinking, Ethical Capability

(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers, Punctuation)

Proper noun hunt

Find and highlight all the proper nouns in the article.

Proper nouns are things like names, dates, places, events, addresses and they all have capital letters.

How many can you find in the article?

Replace the proper nouns in the text with words that you’ve chosen.
Do they still make sense?

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: English, Big Write, VCOP







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