Wheels come off dockless bikes
Dockless bike outfit Obike is drastically cutting services in Munich. The Singapore-based company, which rolled out rapidly in the German city last year, is planning to pull 6,000 of its 7,000 bikes off the streets by end-April after suffering major damage and losses to its two-wheel fleet.
Citizens complained last year that the orange bicycles in Munich were piling up in parks and blocking access to public buildings. oBike has also been criticised for failing to support its fleet adequately and for falling down in the maintenance side. A number of art installations comprising oBikes highlighted the dissatisfaction some locals felt with the service.
In recent months, the company has suffered losses as the dockless bikes were tossed in the river, hung from trees or had their seats slashed and cables cut, making them unusable. Many customers complained that the bicycles were low quality and that they were often stuck in gear. Obike says the fleet was becoming economically unsustainable, which is why it is now rowing back.
The fact that Obike rolled out its offering so quickly is the reason it has had problems, says Florian Paul, head of bicycle transport in Munich’ s planning department. "It's evident that when you build out a platform quickly without taking much care it has negative consequences,” he told Süddeutsche Zeitung.
However, Obike’s retreat means the city now has a two-wheel shortfall. According to recent studies, Munich needs around 45,000 rental bikes to cope – at end-2018 it will have an estimated 6,000, with Deutsche Bahn providing around 1,200 of them.