Oxford journalist and academic John Mair on why dockless bikes are a menace on our streets

IMAGINE you set up a car hire company in Oxford. People can pick up your cars all over the city, leave them on pavements, beside the canal, on top of bus shelters. Wherever is convenient.

These are ‘dockless cars’-they have no permanent homes. I doubt the idea would survive ten minutes in a City Council meeting.

Well, that is exactly what the (mainly) Chinese companies are doing with their ‘dockless’ bikes in our city. All 1000 (yes 1000) of them.

Either the city council is very naïve or just complicit with this new menace.

Some like Cyclox’s Tristram Wyatt (Oxford Mail 3/04/2018)see it as a cycling revolution. It ain’t. It is just plain daft.

This is now the long overdue time for a transparent and open debate on ‘dockless Oxford’.

Where are the contracts with these companies? Can they be easily found on the OCC website? If not, why not? How much are they paying for using acres of our communal pavement space? Think Frideswide Square - just built and rebuilt, our pride and joy - the gateway to Oxford.

You cannot move there today for the yellow and green apparitions. There is a social cost for the ‘dockless’.

These, remember, are our pavements - paid for out of our council taxes so why does the council not charge an economic rent for them to the companies?

What measures are the ‘Cycling Tsar’ Councillor Louise Upton and her officials taking to regulate the dockless, or should it be careless, ones?

Do they have any idea of usage and abusage of the 1000 bikes? Do they know where they have all been ‘parked’-it is very easy to find out with GPS and their apps.

How long before they are collected from far flung spots?

I have seen some bikes ‘lost’ for weeks. This simply should not happen.

There is a ‘voluntary’ code of conduct, more ignored than obeyed it seems. The onus is on us to report stray bikes not for the companies to find them. That seems a new twist on caveat emptor.

One company Ofo says Blackbird Leys is a good market for them. Wheelies anybody?

And the very big, unanswered, question,the elephant on the pavements, is why do they all not build and pay for docking stations? It works in London for the Santander/‘Boris Bikes’ and has done for years.

It could work here. It just needs some political will and muscle.

It does seem to me that Oxford City Council has been a pushover on the dockless bikes ‘revolution’.

In the name of ‘freedom’ and more cyclists on the road, a Labour council has encouraged a situation of total laissez faire - some of you may call it anarchy.

Oxford has gained much colour from the ‘dockless revolution’ but seemingly little revenue and plenty of hassle for pedestrians and others.

Try pushing a pram in a street with a plethora of the dockless….

Come on Cllr Upton, call the ‘revolution' to a halt or at least try to control it

At the moment it is controlling you. Time for us ordinary, non-cycling citizens to revolt and reclaim their hard won pavements.