Bike share company Gobee has called it a day in Paris, soon after withdrawing from Lille, Reims and Brussels.
After just four months, more than 3000 bikes had been damaged and over 1000 had been stolen, Gobee the bike share company reported. They had filed 280 complaints with the police regarding the way their fleet of bikes had been treated. This was after establishing a fleet of 2000 bikes in Paris alone.
One of the reasons given for this rapid demise was the new “hobby” of underage individuals damaging bikes from this bike share company and sharing this online with YouTube and Instagram videos, and in Facebook groups, etc – an unpleasant aspect of the use of social media – as a perverse form of entertainment. “Over the months of December and January, the mass destruction of our fleet has become the new entertainment of underaged individuals,” the company said in a statement.
“It was sad and disappointing to realise that a few individuals could ruin such a beautiful and promising project. We had to come to the conclusion that it could not be viable and there was no other choice for us than shutting down, nationwide” the Bike Share company told Agence France-Presse.
The model used by this particular bike share company was the “dockless” version where users do not have to return a bike at a docking station, rendering them more vulnerable when not locked up in a rack. The aim was to make it easier to use the bikes, but at the evident expense of leaving them exposed to vandalism.
There were even reports from Australia that another bike share company using the same dockless model had to retrieve more than 40 bikes from a Melbourne river late in 2017.
No doubt the 150,000 registered users of this particular bike share company will be disappointed, although Gobee.bike says that it is refunding their €15 registration. In just a few months 448,121 km were cycled on the bright green bikes of the bike share company – 100 times the distance of the Tour de France. There is evidently a need for bike share schemes, but the vulnerability of dockless schemes is problematical.
Some of the bike fleet may yet continue in use as some small local initiatives may take over bikes from this bike share company, do them up and make them available to people who need bikes.