Across the Bay Area, vandals have hit recently installed Ford GoBike stands, flattening tires and stripping bikes.
This past weekend, each bike at a stand in the Mission was left with flat tires, while another was found completely stripped. Last week in Oakland, a Ford GoBike ended up in Lake Merritt.
Two weeks ago, a tipster in Oakland found a similar situation at a Telegraph Ave. Ford GoBike stand, where an unknown vandal left tires slashed.
Video: Henry Pickavet/Hoodline Tipline
Originally Bay Area Bike Share, the program was rebranded to Ford GoBike after the auto company became a major sponsor. The bike rental program will add 2,000 bikes to San Francisco and 1,500 bikes to the East Bay by Labor Day.
However, not everyone is happy about the expansion. Citing gentrification concerns, Calle24, the Latino Heritage District, blocked the bike rental program from expanding to 24th Street in the Mission.
Some called the vandalism a strike against gentrification. "We're just fed up, this is it," Ani Rivera, executive director at Galería de la Raza, told KPIX. She said that it was indicative of the frustrations that residents have long felt over dramatic changes in the neighborhood, ranging from evictions to changing demographics.
Some skeptics have expressed concern that Ford GoBikes's data collection would lead to more than bicycles in the neighborhood. "They're collecting that data to let Ford know where to place their Chariot shuttle buses," Erick Arguello, founder of Calle 24, told KPIX.
However, other residents felt that the Ford GoBike program benefited the neighborhood.
"If you can only have 1,000 bikes in the city without some kind of sponsorship, and then you can get 7,000 with sponsorship, I think the benefits outweigh the cost," Mission resident Luis Fernandez told KPIX.
We've reached out to Motivate, the company that operates the Bay Area Ford GoBike program, to learn how it plans to respond and will update this article when we hear back.
Update, 12:58pm: "Our team operates 24-hours a day and we are rapidly responding to any reports of vandalism, and making any necessary repairs," said Dani Simons, spokesperson for Motivate.
A Ford GoBike spokesperson noted that it is not unusual for new public offerings—they included the bike rental program as well as new bus stops and benches—to have vandalism issues when they first appear. In other systems, the spokesperson said, an increase in vandalism occurs as the program launches. However, as people acclimate, fewer incidents of vandalism occur.
An earlier version of this article included a quote and a photo from a public Facebook page that were not used with permission. We regret the error.
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