The tough experience of Gobee.Bike in Lille

In October, Gobee.bike launched in Lille, France, 500 of its dockless shared bikes. It was the first market for the company, and the first dockless bike-share scheme to be launched in France. Two months later, the assessment is quite mixed…

The first problematic to emerge has been the privatisation of bikes. Some unscrupulous users are parking the bikes inside their private courtyard or underground parking.  According to a local journalist, “One out of 4 bikes were missing due to privatisation!”. Geoffrey Marticou, Gobee.bike’s country manager, is willing to increase the bikes density to eliminate the need of privatisation, and admitted around 60 cases since the launch.

Then vandalism and theft appeared to be very important. The police already retrieved 15 stolen bikes: people are burning or damaging the lock in order to stop the GPS tracking, and are the going away with the bike. Many bikes are also damaged or missing parts: broken locks, rear wheel spokes, brake cables, and missing saddles or handlebar are often seen in the streets. Resulting in a shortage of bikes in the city… Geoffrey Marticou announced that the repairs can take “up to 20 days” (!!) and that they now have a 10 persons staff for balancing and maintenance (for 500 bikes, as a reminder).

These two problematics emphasized the lack of bicycles in the city center. 1- There is less available bikes. 2- As there is no delimited area for the service, bikes have been spread in the whole metropolis. Gobee.Bike recently implemented a “blue zone” in the app, to incite users to stay close to the center. I really doubt it will be enough… But they are planning to double the number of bikes very soon. What about geo-fencing, penalties and so on??

On top of that, Lille’s municipality voted on december 8th 2017 in favor of a public space use license fee of 11€/bike/year! It will be applied to all future operator of a free-floating service, and is aiming to “protect he urban landscape”. To my knowledge, it is the first city to apply such a fee. But the amount is so low that we can wonder what the effects will be… But they made the first step.

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