(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Baltimore Bike Share announced Tuesday that the system will be shut down temporarily. It’s slated to return after a month.
Officially, the bikeshare will be offline starting on Sunday, Sept. 15. It’s slated to return on Oct. 15.
However, issues with the availability of bikes have been mounting.
A planned spring expansion that would’ve added 30 new stations to the system was delayed after a manufacturer that makes a part for the bike couldn’t make enough, the Baltimore Business Journal reported.
But over the summer, even the bikes that were already on the street began to decrease. There was one case where police fished a bike out of the harbor, but the problem seemed more widespread. Noticing the numbers of bikes dwindling, Brian Seel took it upon himself to head out and count bikes at each of the 25 stations over Labor Day weekend.
At all of the stations combined, he found four bikes total, according to his Medium post. It started with 200 bikes on the street.
I just published “Baltimore Bike Share Only Has Four Bikes” https://t.co/VU4twzL6sY
— Brian Seel (@cylussec) September 11, 2017
One problem Seel pointed out was a lack of communication about why the count of the bikes were decreasing. One piece of info was provided in a tweet from the Bike Share account on Sept. 1 indicating that the bikes were getting some upgrades.
Yes. They are safe and being upgraded with new soft and hardware to increase security and reliability. Sorry for the inconvenience.
— Baltimore Bike Share (@BmoreBikeShare) September 1, 2017
With the shutdown, the stations will have signs that provide notification that the system isn’t up and running.
If all goes according to plan with the relaunch, the system will be nearly a year old when it’s back up-and-running. Bewegen provided bikes with pedal-assist technology, and Corps Logistics operates the program.
The pause in the program could provide a chance for a refresh. The release that was issued Tuesday acknowledges that there were thefts over the summer — calling them “isolated.” As a result, the bikes are receiving some new security features.
“The combination of always-on GPS and enhanced security equipment will improve the safety and security of the bike share system,” said the release.
Additionally, it provides a chance to prepare for the expansion that was held up.
“We sincerely apologize for the lack of communication, but Baltimore BikeShare is coming back BIG in a few weeks,” said a Facebook post from Bikeshare.