Oh dear, Obikes

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Mon 18th Dec, 2017

So far since launch, 6800 Obikes bikes have been positioned in Munich. More and more of these bicycles-for-rent are being deliberately damaged. Not only are they put upside down or end up hanging from tree branches, they are also thrown into the Isar and sometimes even brake cables have been severed.

It would appear as if a massive protest of Munich citizens against the rental bikes is under way. Munich's Bicycle traffic representative Florian Paul states: I can understand the discontent over the company partly, but when it comes to vandalism, it needs to stop. It's not Obike, but the citizens who put people's health in danger. It is questionable if they might start destroying private bikes as well."

According to Florian Paul there are roughly 2 Million private bikes in Munich.  So how can 6800 Obikes be such a big problem? Something went terribly wrong here for the company. Their reputation was damaged from the start when many distinctive yellow bikes turned up without a proper media accompaniment last summer. The reports about the sale of user data didn't help as well.

Obike told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that they are not planning to put up further bikes, but also won't reduce the fleet and are going to spread them more evenly across Munich. They also introduced a geofencing system, showing them if a bike is placed in an allowed area or not.

How many bikes are affected is not made public. Also, relevant data such as how many bikes are used on which routes and when, is also not passed on.

According to a study about rental bikes in major cities from the Institute For Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) in New York, a city needs between 10 and 30 rental bike per 1000 citizens. Which means that between 30,000 and 45,000 bikes might be needed for Munich. At the moment there are roughly 10,000 DB bikes, 6800 Obikes, 1200 MVG bikes and some minor numbers of smaller providers.

Therefore the number of rental bikes is going to be increased in 2018, MVG increasing their rental bicycle tally by more than 2000.

See this Wikipedia article on Obikes for more information on the company.

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