The Ballad of O-Bike Bill

by Melbourne CBD

(with apologies to A.B. “Banjo” Paterson The Sydney Mail, 25 July 1896.)


‘Twas O-bike Bill, from Singapore, that caught the cycling craze;

To disrupt gas guzzling autos that had served us many days;

He mass produced the yellow bikes, resplendent to be seen;

He hurried off to Melbourne to spread out the new machines;


And as he wheeled them out the door, with air of lordly pride,

a bemused Melbourne public said, “Excuse me, will this fly?”


“See here, old town,” said O-bike Bill, “in lands over the sea,

From London through to Amsterdam, none can disrupt like me.

I spread the bikes all round the place so everybody chats,

A cunning, crowd-sourced strategy to advertise my app.


For bike-share is my special gift, for cyclists travelling hence,

can access two wheeled spinners with dock-less convenience.


Just ask city commuters how to overcome congestion;

a micro-pay per ride is quite a lucrative suggestion.

Just ask the social scientists how to minimise pollution;

bikes strewn en-masse on streets provide a post-carbon solution .


There’s nothing in the rules or regs, no council who won’t cop it,

There’s nothing legislated here to stop me turning profit.


Just sit as cash flows in; this gig-economy’s so bright:

I’ll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight.”


‘Twas O-Bike Bill, from Singapore, a free app did download,

Which searched for random pushies he had left beside the road.


The GPS would guide him to a mount that he could buy,

But ‘ere he’d gone a dozen yards; something had gone awry!


He found one tossed up into branches, of a big white-box:

Another from St Kilda pier, amidst the penguins rocks.


An old lady fell over one and landed in the gutter,

The Lord Mayor went on radio and called them ‘urban clutter’.


He thought he’d found a pile of forty near a fishing fella;

The angler simply shrugged and pointed, in the river Yarra!


He encountered kerbside traders who were threatening to sue,

With no relief he found one thrown, atop a porta-loo.


They’d tossed them in the city loop, on train tracks underground,

As O-bike Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.


“This town regards my gold machines another tripping hazard;

If I can’t find a bike real soon my business model’s shattered!”


It directed him to leave the road, that smart phone, silver sleek;

It led him down an awful slope towards the Merri Creek.


He struck a stone which made him trip upon a fallen tree,

He tottered on the precipice as close as close could be;


And then as O-bike Bill let out one last despairing shriek,

He fell and joined his bicycle, submerged in Merri creek.


‘Twas O-bike Bill, from Singapore, that slowly swam ashore:

He said, “I’ve had some narrer shaves and lively rides before;

as a digital disrupter you have to risk the bet

But this is the most awful town that I’ve encountered yet.


I’ll give that two-wheeled outlaw best; it’s shaken all my nerves

with all the public outrage and Mayoral media serves.

It’s safe at rest in Merri Creek, we’ll leave it lying still;

A Melbourne tram is good enough henceforth for O-bike Bill.”




Notes/ Links :’s_Bicycle


Marcus Curnow

Marcus Curnow

Director / Curator, Labyrinth Melbourne

Marcus has been hacking Melbourne for 20 years. A community organiser and storyteller, he is likely to be found running a food pantry in the inner-city or coaching cricket.