Update, March 21, 3:40 p.m. PT: This story has been updated with additional information from LimeBike, the Seattle Department of Transportation, and more.
Two dockless bike sharing companies in Seattle issued warnings to users on Wednesday to beware of vandalism that could pose a serious safety risk in the hilly city.
“We have received reports of brake lines being cut on Spin bikes in the downtown Seattle area,” Spin said in an email safety advisory. A couple hours later, LimeBike sent a notice to its users.
In stressing that safety was its top priority, Spin offered a couple tips on Wednesday:
- Before riding, check to see if any wires have been cut.
- Test your brakes once you have gotten onto the bike.
The Seattle Department of Transportation tweeted on Wednesday that it had received reports of vandalized brakes on bikes.
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!
–@limebike @ofo_bicycle @Spin_Seattle
— seattledot (@seattledot) March 21, 2018
And soon thereafter, LimeBike sent a mobile push notification to users urging riders to do a pre-ride safety check. LimeBike also said via Twitter that it was working closely with law enforcement to identify any individuals involved with damaging bikes.
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
On March 2, Yifan Zhang, the co-founder of the Seattle startup Loftium, tweeted that her husband had to fall to avoid traffic after a bike he was using had had its brakes cut. She urged Seattle Police to look into it.
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
— Yifan Zhang (@yifanz) March 3, 2018
Bike-share bicycles, which are parked anywhere a rider decides to leave one, have consistently been the target of vandals in Seattle. Photos over the past several months show the bikes tipped over, piled up, underwater, stuck in trees and more.
Spin advises any rider who finds a damaged bike to report it through the company’s app, website, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
LimeBike reached out to GeekWire and provided the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:
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 park 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 (email@example.com), 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.