Inspired by viral social media hits, underage vandals destroyed more than 3,000 GoBee bikes and stole more than 1,000, effectively shutting down the bike-sharing business in the whole of France.
GoBee Bike had a beautiful and promising vision for widespread bike transport in France. The Hong Kong-based company began four months ago in France and operated in several cities including Paris, Lille, and Reims. But oh how quickly the dream died.
Announced earlier this week, GoBee Bike will end its operation in France. The company became the object of social media ridicule, which resulted in widespread vandalism.
In total, more than 1,000 bikes were stolen and 3,400 bikes were broken over the months of December and January, largely by “underaged individuals” according to GoBee.
The company attempted to continue in light of the destruction. GoBee repaired close to 6,500 bikes, but ultimately the project was no longer sustainable.
While we haven’t used these bikes, it appears a design flaw within the locking system allowed vandalism to run rampant. It relied on the good faith of users. Apparently, they decided to wreck the bikes instead.
GoBee Bike Destruction: France Bike-Share Ends
The bike-share company launched in Hong Kong in 2017 and has since been successful in cities across the world. It aims to end the “last mile destination problems commonly experienced in large cities” and promote a healthier lifestyle and greener environment.
The system works with an app that locates GoBee bikes for you to rent, similar to Uber Bike.
GoBee provides a set amount of bikes to a city, and app users are free to ride them. Across Europe, the app had 150,000 users.
With GPS in the bikes and included locks, riders can locate bikes, unlock them, and ride to their destinations. It provides straightforward, affordable, clean transportation.
Vandalism Sweeps France: Bikes Broken
The method to unlock GoBee bikes allowed rampant destruction without the vandals facing any consequences. The included QR code locks do not function by wrapping around a pole or bike rack; they simply lock the bike wheels so they can’t move. People can pick up bikes without scanning and carry them away – they just can’t ride them.
The GoBee system has been a raving success in Hong Kong and other cities. It works with a collective trust that people won’t take the bikes. France, however, did not fare so well.
The bike vandals took to social media to report destroyed bikes. Bent tires, bikes atop statues, and missing parts were common pictures.
Because of GPS tracking, the French Municipal Police caught some of them, but investigations are still ongoing. By the time GoBee announced its departure from France, 280 complaints had been filed.
In light of the events, the company remains remarkably positive.
“We encourage you to keep spreading the values inherent to bike-sharing and GoBee Bike itself: freedom, community, and innovation,” announced the company. “Maybe we will see you next time? Who knows! Life is a long adventure!”