More than 1600 bikes left behind by the failed bike sharing scheme Mobike have never been ridden, after the company went bust without ever having deployed its newest models to city streets.
A recycling company, Revolve Recycling, has stepped in to remove, refurbish or recycle Mobike bikes that were abandoned on the street in partnership with the City of Sydney but has no access to the 1300 new bikes locked in Sydney and another 300 in Queensland.
The liquidators managing Mobike after its collapse, which this masthead revealed on Tuesday, have given up their interest in the bikes after failing to find a buyer for them.
Guido Verbist, Revolve’s general manager, said he had been told by Mobike’s former owners that the bikes were imported years ago but that Mobike was not able to release them because it had not paid its outstanding storage fees to the warehouse. Revolve’s business relies on receiving abandoned bikes for free, rather than paying for them, creating an impasse.
“It’s a problem and it’s negative for the reputation of the sector because they [Mobike] basically dropped the ball,” Verbist said.
As far back as August, Business Sydney executive director Paul Nicolau warned the state government in a letter that a Mobike-style situation could be repeated for the new wave of electric bikes unless laws are tightened.
Despite their competitors’ failures, there are now six share bike operators in Sydney hoping that their electric-powered, GPS-tracked bikes will succeed in the city.
“Sydney businesses don’t want a repeat of the rental bike debacle that happened a couple of years ago where bikes were dumped all over the city and discarded into rivers, creeks, parks, reserves and people’s front yards,” Nicolaou wrote.
He asked for dedicated parking zones, software to stop bikes going into inappropriate areas and rapid unused bike collection, backed up by state government fines.
Councils such the City of Sydney, Inner West, Randwick and Waverley have joint guidelines for bike sharing in their areas, but the rules are not legally enforceable because that is a state government responsibility.
In active transport minister Rob Stokes’ reply to Nicolau – and in a response to questions from this masthead from an Office of Local Government spokeswoman – the government pointed to anti-dumping laws introduced in 2021.
“Under the… act, if an item is not removed by an owner or operator from a public space within a specified timeframe after being notified, the council can take possession of the item and issue a fine,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.
But that does not address a situation like Mobike’s collapse, where the company does not want the bikes back and cannot pay a fine. In that instance, the spokeswoman said, the liquidator could choose to take possession of abandoned property. Mobike’s liquidators have not done so.
The spokeswoman said that in that case authorities such as a council could sell or dispose of the property to help recover their costs. Stokes’ office declined to comment.
Of the councils contacted by this masthead, the City of Sydney was the only one to reveal how it planned to tackle the issue of the bikes abandoned on the street by Mobike. Their number is unknown because Mobike’s tracking software has been turned off.
The City has engaged with Revolve to recycle the bikes, though there is not yet a formal contract.
“The City of Sydney is thankful Revolve Recycling has been able to step in and recover, recycle and redeploy some of these bikes” rather than them going to landfill, a City spokesman said.
The spokesman said Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore had seen the issues coming, writing to the state government about bike sharing in 2017.
“Improved policies from the state government will help operators better understand their responsibilities and provide a better customer experience to the community while giving confidence to councils that in the event a company fails, there is a framework to manage the consequences,” the spokesman said.
The City has awarded Revolve a $30,000 grant to assist with its general work of redeploying and recycling bikes, and Verbist said he was eager to work with the City on a campaign to find and collect the dumped Mobikes.
He said he had been in touch with the liquidators, who had expressed enthusiasm for Revolve to take the bikes but no deal has been reached. “The details of how and the costs associated, that’s not yet discussed, we’re trying to get in touch now and work out an arrangement,” Verbist said.
Henry Kwok from Chifley Advisory, one of the liquidators handling Mobike, said it had no comment on the matter. When asked whether the liquidators were open to Revolve’s offer, Kwok said interested parties should get in touch directly with Chifley.
Most Viewed in Technology
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article