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Bike-sharing services

Gobee.bike says it has Hongkongers’ support as police investigate spate of river dumping cases

Five of the start-up firm’s bright green rides have been found submerged in tributaries around Shatin since last weekend

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 April, 2017, 11:29am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 April, 2017, 5:41pm

Hong Kong police have launched an investigation into a string of acts of vandalism against the newly launched bike-sharing service Gobee.bike.

Five of the start-up firm’s bright green bicycles have been found submerged in tributaries of the Shing Mun River around Shatin since last weekend.

Last Saturday, three bikes were found dumped in the river nearby the City One Shatin private residential estate. A day later, another was spotted in the water close to Shatin Sports Ground, and then on Monday, a fifth was discovered near Chevalier Garden housing estate in Ma On Shan.

Though no arrests have yet been made, authorities said they are now investigating the case and treating it as criminal damage.

All must get on board for rent-a-bike scheme to work

Despite the bumpy start, a spokeswoman for GoBee.bike told an RTHK radio programme on Monday that the service had been widely supported across Hong Kong since it was launched last Wednesday.

“Taking into account the number of damaged bicycles and the total number of bicycles available for rent, the problem is not very significant,” she said.

She said there had been speculation over whether rival bicycle repair shops might have been involved in the bike dumping, but it was up to the police to investigate.

Co-founder of Gobee.bike, Raphael Cohen,said the company was disappointed but not discouraged by the damage to the bicycles.

“While we are obviously disappointed with the few people who have thrown the bikes in the river, we believe that the majority of Hongkongers are respectful and that they will embrace this concept because of its many benefits,” he said.

He declined to speculate on who might have been behind the incidents.

“Gobee.bike has data of registered users only. Our system did not find a link between our users and the incidents,” he added.

Gobee.bike is Hong Kong’s first bike-sharing service, allowing users to rent some 400 smart bikes in the western New Territories by scanning a QR code with their mobile phones. Unlike existing bike rental services, users do not have to pick up and drop the bicycles at designated locations.

According to the founder of the start-up firm, Raphael Cohen, users can park the bicycles “anywhere as long as it is legal”.

Bicycle-hire customer in China charged US$60,000 for 20 minutes

Commenting on the service, independent lawmaker Edward Yiu Chung-yim questioned whether the new service was fair to other operators.

“For existing operators, if they rent shops to store their bicycles, they pay rent,” Yiu said.

“But now there comes a new competitor and its bicycles can be parked in public places although they are for commercial use. I think [Gobee.bike] should be charged a market fee in order to provide a level playing field to all competitors.”

The rent for Gobee.bike bicycle is HK$5 per 30 minutes and there is a refundable deposit of HK$399. It automates the rental process through a mobile app. Users must register their credit card to use the service.