Rental bike provider Obike from Singapore has started to withdraw a large part of their fleet from Munich. From the end of April 2018, instead of 6.800 bikes there will only be 1.000 left. The collected bicycles are to be distributed to other German cities such as Frankfurt, Berlin and Hannover.
Despite the fact that Munich will now fail to offer the desired number of 12.000 rental bikes in the city by the end of the year, many Munich residents will be happy about the disappearance of the eye-catching yellow Obikes. Within a short time, the provider showered the city with bicycles in the summer of 2017, often placing up to 30 of them in one location. The otherwise rather tolerant Münchners reacted to it with vandalism - soon the wheels found themselves in the river Isar, hanging from street lights and in tree-tops, were damaged or sprayed over, or, in the most harmless case, placed upside down. Examples can be found under the hashtag #sadobike.
As a reason for the reduction, the supplier stated that the high maintenance costs associated with this vandalism were not feasible. Munich city, as a business location, is no longer profitable for the company.
However, Obike has also been negatively impacted by alleged security vulnerabilities in the user data. In Berlin, for instance, a review procedure was initiated by the local data protection officer.
Both Obike and the city of Munich have learned from the mistakes though: the city council has issued a guide for bike rental companies to avoid similar conditions in the future. Obike will not place more than 5 bikes in one location anymore and provide service teams in the affected cities to make sure the bikes are functional and not misplaced.