weBike: Bike Sharing System
weBike is a bicycle rental system that works through a mobile app instead of a “station-based” operation. It works like this. A number of bikes are locked up anywhere around the city and when the user needs a bike they pull up their weBike app, find the nearest bike available, unlock it with a unique, one-time code, and go. When they are finished, they lock it back up and it becomes accessible for another potential user. weBike calls this a “game changer” and, well, I want to believe them.
The problems I instantly considered are accountability (theft) and improper locking locations. Regarding accountability, is there a system in place to return the bikes into the sharing system if someone decides to just lock it in their home? If all they are paying for is a mobile app, it seems like anyone could get their hands on a free bike for the cost of the app. And what about improper locking locations? Station-based models are monitored and accessible, but what if one of these random bike is locked improperly and either gets stolen or removed by the authorities, then how long until the entire fleet is missing? Oh, and then there are the incentives for crowd-funding. You don’t really get much for chipping in.
I honestly like the idea of this project attempting to balance communalism with capitalism, but I think there are some obvious problems with the system (and human nature) that need to be addressed before this becomes completely viable. What do you think?