Micromobility share service providers in Sydney have joined a recycling company’s campaign to remove abandoned Onyahbike share bikes from the city’s streets, with potential the collaboration could lead to more formal commitments by operators.
Service providers Beam, HelloRide, Lime, Neuron, Airbike and Bird have all begun collecting the Onyahbike bikes as part of the clean-up, with around 150 of them delivered to bike recycling specialist Revolve ReCYCLING.
The CEO of Revolve ReCYCLING, Guido Verbist, that is around half of the bike left on Sydney’s streets when Onyahbike went into administration late last year.
“The operators are collecting them during their own regular service operations at night, when they are checking their own bikes,” Guido said.
“Almost every day, one of the fleet operators will say they have found a few of them, and they keep them until they have a full truckload to deliver – around 20 at a time.”
“We had hoped to have the collection finished by the middle of this month but now it looks more like being the end of February, when we will have the vast majority.
“I doubt we will ever have them all off the street because we simply don’t know where they all are.
“I don’t expect the Singapore people who own the tracking software will come to the table and give us access but that’s what we’re trying; even if it’s only for a couple of days, so we know where the bikes are, but I don’t have a lot of hope.”
The liquidator officially disowned the bikes earlier this month.
Recovered and Recycled
“Legally nobody owns them any longer but we all feel responsible to keep the streets clean and do the right thing from an environmental and community perspective,” Guido said.
“They are all in poor condition and locked, which is another symptom of the geolocation system being deactivated.
“No Onyahbike will go to the tip. We have the systems in place to recover the metal and other componentry. We have opportunities to use some units in different settings like parks and campuses. It’s been good to support the sector in taking responsibility.
“The operators obviously have an interest in maintaining a positive reputation for the industry.”
He said a series of meeting between Revolve ReCYCLING and the service providers – facilitated by Sydney City Council and, in particular, its manager cycling strategy, Fiona Campbell – also looks set to initiate a better system and stronger commitment among operators to “do the right thing”.
Upgraded Industry Commitments
The share scheme sector is committed to upgrading its industry-wide voluntary commitments to ensure responsibility is taken for vehicles put in circulation on the streets.
“One thing that has been suggested is a bond they would pay – creating a budget to solve the problem if they ended up in a similar situation,” Guido said.
“The current situation goes back to the fact that in NSW there is no official regulatory system in place like there is in Victoria., where you have an obligation to not leave them anywhere in the street.
“Operations in NSW are based on the guidelines that have been in place since 2017. They were agreed upon by the Sydney and surrounding councils but the State has never stepped in to provide a regulatory regime. That’s the weakness here in NSW.
“We need to look at ways to make it stronger and a more explicit commitment to doing the right thing.”
Senior spokespersons for Beam, Bird and Neuron said sustainable is central to the organisations’ commitment to the communities they’re serving.
Beam’s Head of Australian Operations, Ashan Sanjeeva, said: “Having abandoned bikes on the streets of Sydney serves no one – not the shared services industry, the local government nor the people of Sydney.
“It is important for the shared micromobility industry that the community is able to rely on operators in their cities, which is why we have made it a priority to retrieve the abandoned bicycles.
“With the industry poised for further growth in the coming years, it is important to us that cities see us as a reliable partner, and we’re committed to collaborating with local city partners like Revolve ReCYCLING, and other operators in the city.”
“Environmental responsibility is a key commitment from us to the local community, which involves not only providing a certified Climate Neutral service with our own vehicles, but contributing to the city’s wider mobility and sustainability goals.”
Similarly, Bird’s senior manager, government partnerships, Deevya Desai, said: “Bird works hard to be a strong partner to cities, and we know that being a strong partner means supporting efforts to ensure micromobility can thrive.”
She praised Revolve ReCYCLING and Sydney City Council for taking the lead in the Onyahbike collection.
Strong Council Powers
NSW parliament has adopted its Public Spaces (Unattended Property) Act 2021 and the accompanying Public Spaces (Unattended Property) Regulation 2022 , which came into force from 1st November 2022.
The new regulations, which council rangers will reportedly be able to act upon from mid 2023, will give local governments, other public land managers and police stronger powers and penalties to rid footpaths, streets, parks, bushland and waterways of abandoned and unattended property.
Under the new laws, owners and others responsible for private property left in public, such as shopping trolleys, unregistered and abandoned cars, unattended trailers and stray stock, face stronger regulatory action if they do not remove their property within set timeframes.
Revolve ReCYCLING is continuing to negotiate for access to more than 1,000 new Onyahbike bikes in warehouse storage and Guido
The Chinese-owned share service was launched in Australia as Mobike in 2017 and was purchased a year later by Chinese e-commerce giant Meituan Dianping for $US2.7 billion (A$3.88 billion).
Meituan offloaded the business the following year to a group of investors reportedly led by a Chilean investor.