Gobee.bike, the first of several Asian dockless bike share operators that launched in Paris last year, has announced it is pulling out of the city because thousands of its bicycles were stolen or vandalised.
“Over the months of December and January, the mass destruction of our fleet has become the new entertainment of underaged individuals, encouraged by content broadly shared on social media,” the Hong Kong startup wrote in an email to its users in the city.
It explained that more than a thousand bikes had been stolen or “privatised” and around 3,400 more had been vandalised, and that despite the 6,400 repairs carried out by its workers, it had decided that the scheme was unsustainable.
Gobee.bike, which had around 150,000 users across France, had already thrown in the towel in the northern cities of Lille and Reims as well as the Belgian capital Brussels for similar reasons.
Earlier this month it closed its schemes in the Italian cities of Rome, Milan and Turin, saying that 60 percent of its “free-floating” fleet has been vandalised, stolen or dumped in rivers.
The firm’s bright green bicycles were located via a smartphone app and hired for 50 cents an hour by swiping a barcode to open the safety lock. Users, who paid a €15 deposit, could then leave the bike anywhere after engaging the wheel lock.
Its departure from Paris leaves the French capital with three remaining Asian-owned operators, Singapore’s oBike, with about 1,800 grey-orange bikes, and two major Chinese firms: Ofo, with about 1,000 yellow bikes, and Mobike, with several thousand red bikes.
These firms have jumped into the market while Paris switches operators for its pioneering Velib scheme, which has around 300,000 users.
The switchover, which involves replacing all of the bikes with new ones, a third of which will be electric, has been largely seen as a fiasco.
By early February only 200 of about 1,400 planned docking stations were up and running, leaving only a fraction of the planned fleet of 20,000 bikes in operation.
Smovengo, the new operator, has blamed the delays on electrical problems and a legal dispute with JCDecaux, the firm that has run the scheme since it was launched in 2007.
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