U-Bicycle North America is experiencing growing pains despite growing popularity, according to Raviv Litman, the company’s operations manager in Victoria.
The company launched its bike rental service in Victoria about a month ago.
It allows users to leave their bikes anywhere, as long as the wheel is locked.
Litman says he receives one or two calls per day, about a third of which are from people who mistakenly think the bikes have been abandoned.
In addition, according to Litman, a dozen bikes have been stolen (eight of which were found), 10 to 15 per cent of helmets have been stolen, and some bikes have been left on private property.
“We just go and deal with the bikes that are in people’s way, or if they think they’re abandoned we just assure them they’re not,” Litman said.
Victoria police say they’ve received several calls from people believing the bicycles have been abandoned in the past several weeks, including three last Friday.
“Regardless if it’s non-emergency or 911, it is taking up time of the call taker. So we just want to educate the public that if you do see these bikes, to contact the company directly,” said Const. Matt Rutherford, a Victoria police spokesperson.
Despite growing pains, U-Bicycle says its launch has been successful.
A third of its bikes are used during any one day, and more than a hundred new models could be coming to Victoria’s streets in the next two or three months.
The company is also considering implementing a bike station that would give users a discount if they park there.