We at Autonomy are saddened to see Gobee.bike, a company dedicated to providing clean urban mobility solutions remove their bikes from streets across France, although we also can’t say we are surprised by their departure. In an effort to be the first free-floating bikeshare in the country, Gobee.bike rushed their launch and in the process, overlooked many key elements: mechanical, political and cultural. This can be seen no more clearly than in Paris.
Early users complained that the bikes were impractical since they were heavy and only had one-gear. Due to the application’s faulty location service, it was also often difficult to find free bikes. According to the press, relations with local Paris officials, who were displeased by Gobee.bike’s lack of cooperation prior to the launch, were strained from the beginning and only soured more after hundreds of bikes were found illegally parked across the city. And of course, there was the issue of the damage suffered at the hands of vandals who singled out Gobee.bikes due to their bright green paint job — which stuck out in a city of muted colors– as well as their status as the first company (and so first target) on the block. Not to mention, many Parisians were put off by these bikes which seemingly appeared overnight with little warning or explanation, often landing in inconvenient places (i.e. in the middle of sidewalks or private parking spaces).
Despite this setback, we appreciate Gobee.bike’s efforts to promote active mobility and decrease congestion in Paris, as well as the heartfelt letter to their customers — which you can read below — announcing the end of their services in France. We wish them the best of luck going forward, hopefully a little wiser from some costly lessons learned.