SEATTLE - All three of Seattle's bike-share companies say vandals are cutting the brake cables on their bikes.
Seattle's Department of Transportation found out about the ongoing issue Tuesday. The department said it's a problem that's putting lives in danger, especially surrounding Westlake, Pioneer Square and the International District.
We’re getting reports that some #seattlebikeshare bikes have had brakes vandalized. We’re working w/the companies to notify users, but in the meantime, please be sure to test your bike share brakes before you hop on. More info soon!— seattledot (@seattledot) March 21, 2018
-@limebike @ofo_bicycle @Spin_Seattle
On March 2, Seattle resident Yifan Zhang tweeted a message to riders, warning them to be careful after she claimed her husband rode a bike that had been tampered with.
"Be careful Seattle bikers - check your brakes!! Someone cut the brakes on my husband's bikeshare and he had to fall to avoid traffic. Seen multiple bikes w/cut breaks - whoever is doing this are absolute cowards, putting Seattle lives at risk," she said.
Be careful Seattle bikers - check your brakes!! Someone cut the brakes on my husband’s bikeshare and he had to fall to avoid traffic. Seen multiple bikes w cut breaks - whoever is doing this are absolute cowards, putting Seattle lives at risk. @limebike @Spin_Seattle @ofo_bicycle— Yifan Zhang (@yifanz) March 3, 2018
LimeBike, Spin and Ofo have since issued safety alerts to riders warning them to make sure the bikes have not been tampered with.
David Raffini and his friends are visiting Seattle from Canada and encountered a bike without brakes this week.
"We saw a few [bikes] with the brakes cut as well," he said. "You start riding it and then you try to brake and you don't. We just changed it."
It's unclear how many bikes have been affected. Ofo says none of its riders have reported injuries.
"People around Seattle rely on bike-sharing every day and the fact that someone is intentionally sabotaging the system is incredibly disheartening," a representative of Ofo said. "This deliberate and harmful act is a serious issue and one we have made a critical priority to immediately address."
All three companies are urging riders to squeeze the brakes and check that the wires are intact before using the bike-share program. LimeBike said customers can notify maintenance crews if there's a problem by pressing the exclamation point on the app.
We are working closely with law enforcement to identify those involved with these incidents. If you have any information relating to these acts of vandalism, please contact @SeattlePD at the non-emergency number at 206-625-5011. If you witness a crime in action please dial 9-1-1.— LimeBike (@limebike) March 21, 2018
In response to the vandalism, Limebike sent the following statement to KIRO 7:
“Rider safety is our top priority. Cutting the brake lines of a bike is not only an act of vandalism, but also a crime as it puts the lives and safety of others at risk. Our local team is aware of the situation, and has been working around-the-clock to ensure that all bikes and brakes are double checked for safety. We recommend that riders conduct a safety check before starting their ride by:
- Checking the bike to ensure all wires are intact.
- Squeezing the brakes to make sure there is resistance.
If you find any issues with your bike, just lock it and hit the "exclamation" button on the homescreen of the LimeBike app, which will immediately notify our local maintenance team to retrieve and inspect it. Riders can also report any bike issues or maintenance requests through our 24/7 customer service team, available through the LimeBike app, email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and phone (Call: 1-888-LIME-345 or Text: 1-888-546-3345).
We are working closely with law enforcement to identify those involved with these incidents. If you have any information relating to these acts of vandalism, please contact Seattle Police Department at the non-emergency number at 206-625-5011. If you witness a bike crime in action, please dial 9-1-1.”
In response to the vandalism, Spin sent the following statement to KIRO 7:
“We were informed that there have been instances of people cutting brake lines on dockless bikes in the Seattle area. For Spin, it has been a limited occurrence but we are taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our community. This includes sending out a precautionary email to our riders as directed by the Seattle Department of Transportation. People should check to see if any wires have been cut and test the brakes before riding. We also urge our community to report any instances of misconduct, especially those that put our riders' safety at risk.”
In response to the vandalism, Ofo sent the following statement to riders:
“We have a safety issue to make you aware of, so please take a moment to read this email. During regular inspection of our ofo bikes in Seattle, we have discovered that the brake lines of some of our bikes have been deliberately cut in an act of vandalism. Fortunately, the issue has not affected any riders, as we’ve been able to identify and remove the bikes from our platform, but we ask that you please check the brakes thoroughly before any ofo ride.
The same issue has been reported with other bikeshare companies in Seattle, so please ensure you check the brakes of any bike from other bikeshare providers as well. ofo and other bikeshare companies are actively working with city officials to help address the situation and sharing information to ensure we are best supporting each other and our riders.
This deliberate and harmful act is a serious issue and one we we have made a critical priority to immediately address. Our local operations team has prioritized scouting for these bikes, particularly in neighborhoods where they have been most prevalent, including Pioneer Square, Westlake Park, and International District, and we are taking them off the streets before any riders are impacted. Our local team manages and oversees our bike fleets seven days a week, and will continue to monitor and inspect each and every bike during our rebalancing and maintenance efforts.
People around Seattle rely on bikesharing everyday and the fact that someone is intentionally sabotaging the system is incredibly disheartening. We are a community, sharing bikes to enhance our lives and cities, and we’re saddened to know this is occurring on any platform. We ask you to please report any issues you may encounter with ofo bikes directly to email@example.com or with any other dockless bikes to their appropriate company.
Again, please check the brakes on any bike in any neighborhood to ensure they are functioning properly. And remember, always wear a properly fitted helmet. Thank you for being extra vigilant and working with us as we manage this serious issue together."
To read more on Seattle's 'Free-Floating Bike Share' program, click here.
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