Several Pace bikes left abandoned around city
By Quin Kelley
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
When Pace brought its bikes to Tallahassee not so long ago, it was intended to be a form of fun or simple transportation for short runs.
However, lately the bikes have been showing up trashed along several roadsides around town. They’ve even been found abandoned at apartment complexes, campus breezeways and near lakes.
The situation has surprised some customers and even the Pace owner.
According to a Pace customer service representative, there have been many calls placed to the call center about misplaced bikes.
“We have calls just about every day from concerned citizens about the bikes being left unattended in faraway areas from the pace racks,” said William Loomis, a customer service representative for Pace. “However, with our fleet of mechanics that we have, we’ve been easily able to locate and return the bikes to their designated areas.”
Tallahassee hasn’t been the only location to experience the misplacements and misuse of the Pace bikes. Pace has a similar problem in Dallas, according to Loomis. He added that the problem here and in Dallas doesn’t mean the company will leave, though.
Zagster, a bike-sharing company based in Massachusetts, unveiled the Tallahassee location as its newest bike sharing service about a year ago.
The bikes are the first dockless model that features a two-point security system, allowing renters to return them to any of Pace’s designated stations. The stations are in places like downtown, Cascades Park, Lake Ella and Railroad Square Art Park.
“It’s really sad how people misuse the bikes,” said Cynthia Crim, who sometimes uses the bikes. “We just got them and they’re really beneficial to those who struggle with transportation around the city. They’re also a great feature for tourists who come and want to explore downtown.”
Pace has 300 bikes and 50 rack locations around the city. Riders can rent and return bikes from any of the hundreds of public bike racks available throughout the city.
If a bike breaks down the company has a team of mechanics to fix them. Renters are responsible for reporting broken bikes to a customer service hotline that is available on Pace’s website.
Despite the large number of abandoned bikes, the company’s Regional Market Manager, Vanessa Christiansen, said the Pace program has a relatively clean track record when it comes to improperly locked bikes. She said only about 4 percent are reported nationwide at Pace locations.
The number is low, in part, she said because Pace has technology in place to lock rented unattended bikes. She puts the onus of stolen bikes on the renters.
“You’re required to lock to something,” she said. “If you’re not locking to something you’re improperly locking. So, we do have mechanisms in place where we reach out to users to try and educate them of proper behavior. We believe that’s part of it, too, helping educate our users.”
Bikes are rented for $1 per 30 minutes through an app that provides step by step features teaching its users how to lock and unlock the bike. They could only be rented with a debit or credit card, which carries the charge until the bike is returned.
Renters said it’s worth the value, but expressed concern about the bikes being stolen.
“Being a student at Florida State it can sometimes be a journey to get from point A to B, so having the Pace bikes makes it a much easier commute,” said Christine Jenkins. “I hope that by the few bikes that have been misused they don’t end up taking them away.”