Bike sharing service Mobike announced earlier this month that its services in Newcastle and Gateshead would be suspended.
Jan Van der Ven, General Manager of Mobike for Western Europe, said at the time that the service had received great support from the people but that in order to increase the sustainability of their UK business, they had to focus on developing in London.
The manager revealed that the service would be suspended in Newcastle but didn’t give any other details. Some immediately pointed out that the suspension probably had to do with the vandalism issues.
The suspension was not only announced for Newcastle but also for Gateshead, where the service brought an additional 200 bikes in June 2018. The company has not given much details but the reports on the company leaving over vandalism issues do make sense.
Less than eight months after its debut in Newcastle, Mobike was seeing numerous reports of vandalism. On social media, residents showed pictures of bikes that had been dumped into rivers or left in areas where they were difficult to recover.
In March 2018, the company was allowed to expand its fleet but the problems continued throughout the year. Mobike remained strong on its decision to keep operating in the areas. But in Manchester and a few other areas, the company decided it was best to stop operating.
Mobike had previously issued a warning for the city over the theft and vandalism issues. In September 2018, the company confirmed that it was leaving the city over those issues. It was the first time that the company ended operations in an area over losses involving theft and vandalism. The company said during its warning that it was losing ten percent of its fleet every month. The problem seems to be affecting every bike sharing company around the world. Some have even decided to leave entire countries or cities over thefts and vandalism.
The service continued in Newcastle and other areas after it left Manchester. The bikes that were operating in Manchester were reportedly transported to other UK cities. In May 2018, the company launched a campaign in Newcastle to encourage people to park safely and responsibly.
The campaign came just weeks after pictures on social media showed its bikes sitting in rivers. The campaign focused on showing users where to leave the bikes. The service allows bikes to be left in most areas of the city but the service said at the time that it wanted to encourage people to park responsibly.
The campaign also came during a time in which the service was introducing improved bikes to the city. Weeks prior to that, the city council had given the company the approval to bring more bikes.
Mobike will continue to operate in some parts of the UK but Newcastle now follows Manchester as some of the places to see the service suspended. The company has confirmed that it will give out refunds to those who had paid to use the service for the upcoming weeks.