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oBike arrives in Brussels to annoyance of mobility minister
Brussels mobility minister Pascal Smet faced questions this week from members of parliament about the sudden appearance of bicycles that are part of the oBike sharing scheme. The company behind the bright yellow bicycles introduced them to the streets of the capital without getting permission or informing the mobility department, Smet said.
oBike is based in Singapore, but services cities across Asia, Australia and Europe, including the Netherlands and the UK. There are no docking stations; users simply leave the bikes anywhere they like on the street. An app shows users where available bikes are located.
Some cities are not in favour of the scheme, as the bikes are left in inconvenient places and sometimes tossed in canals. Central Brussels is now home to 500 of the bikes, which appeared at the end of September.
“They are mostly just in the way,” said member of parliament Bruno De Lille (Groen). “They are thrown around everywhere, and they are blocking the sidewalk in front of the more popular bars.”
Smet said that there is no law banning bicycles that do not have docking stations, but that he is meeting with cabinet members to discuss the situation. He has contacted the company, which said that they had originally made contact with Brussels-City council and not with the region.
An oBike spokesperson told Bruzz that Brussels residents were quick to use the bikes and that they have had inquiries from residents in other parts of Brussels. “If we continue to get requests, we will seek talks with the other municipalities,” said the spokesperson.
Brussels has its own bike scheme called Villo, which is regulated and requires users to subscribe and return bikes to designated docking stations.