An odd trend has started in a few cities, mostly over in Europe, and it’s called SoBi. SoBi, or social bicycles, are similar to car rentals in that users pay a certain amount of money to use them for a period of time.
The thought behind this is to allow city folk to make use of these bikes for as long as they need, and they can enjoy the luxury of not having to actually pay for a real bike. These SoBi come with a U-Lock attached to the rear end, a immobilizer for the back wheel, a GPS tracking device, a GSM modem, and an electric generator. Sound fancy huh? And Expensive too….
For people to use these bikes, they would have to pay a small yearly subscription (only a few bucks), register online, and then pay each time they used the bike. In my professional bike riding opinion this sounds like a hassle.
There seems to be a few flaws in this whole SoBi process. First off, if the bikes are standard sizes so that it seems that people who are overly large, or rather small, are kind of out of luck here. Another issue is how often these will be used. For the people needing to use this, it will probably be a spur of a moment thing for them so they probably wouldn’t be able to go register online.
Also, what’s to stop some kids from taking these bikes, removing some of the electronics from it, and selling the parts or keeping the bike? Ya it’s got to be registered and it locks up, but if you live in the city you know people steal just about anything they can get their hands on and they can be very, very crafty.
Overall this seems like an expensive waste of money from whoever is funding this. How hard is it for people to go get a used bike at a garage sale, or just go to Wal-Mart and get a cheap one? From the pictures these bikes look pretty hideous.