With an affordable option of 39kr for 30 days and 176kr for the entire year, the Stockholm eBikes rental was one of the cheapest ways for us to get around the city. All you had to do was to find a bike, unlock it with the app, and you’re ready to go for 90 whole minutes. And yet, all the bikes seem to have disappeared recently. What has happened?
Image from Visit Stockholm (however, they recently took down the website https://www.visitstockholm.com/o/stockholm-ebikes/ )
If you head over to their website (stockholmebikes.se), you’ll see (in bright bolded red letters) a message: “Service is temporarily paused. We will get back as soon as possible with a re-opening date”. With the disappearance of the bikes happening nearly overnight, many of us were left puzzled by the sudden pause in service. In fact, I still remember my flatmate telling me excitedly about how cheap the bikes were just a few days before the bike service was cut off. So, why has the ebike service stopped?
At the start of May, the company running the bike sharing actually paused the rental of the electric bikes because of an incident where a bike user became hospitalized after a bicycle frame broke. The CEO of Stockholm eBikes, Henric Hedenqvist commented that “Vi har samlat in fyra cyklar där ramen lossnat från svetsningen fram i styrstaget och åtta cyklar med sprickor i ramen. Vi ser allvarligt på händelsen och har beslutat att pausa vår tjänst och samla in samtliga cyklar för besiktning och säkerhetskontroll” (in English: “We have collected four bicycles where the frame has come loose from welding in the front of the steering rod and eight bikes with cracks in the frame. We take the incident seriously and have decided to pause our service and collect all bikes for inspection and safety checks”).
And this is not the first time that the service has met with issues. In December 2022, the service was paused after fears of the bicycle batteries catching fire. Quickly after that incident, Svenska Dagbladet published an article highlighting the fact that “Lånecyklarna i Stockholm kan ha fler än tio rapporterade fel – och fortfarande stå tillgängliga för allmänheten att boka” (“rental bikes in Stockholm may have more than ten reported errors — and still be available for booking by the public”) and that over half of the bikes available for rent had known damages. That’s why, this safety pause is a good thing. Marlinda Flodman, the press officer of Trafikkontoret på Stockholms stad commented that it is “bra att vi inte har farliga cyklar ute” (“good that we do not have dangerous bikes out”).
However, this time around, it seems that the bikes will not be returning anytime soon. On May 16, Tuesday, Stockholms stad announced that the agreement with Stockholm Ebikes will be terminated due to what Trafikborgarrådet (Traffic Commisioner) Lars Strömgren refers to as a “aldrig sinande ström av problem” (“never-ending stream of problems”).
This doesn’t mean the end of eBike services. In an interview with Dagens Nyheter, Lars Strömgren reflected that “Vi ser ett stort behov av ett sånt här system. Därför kommer vi inom staden att sätta oss ner och diskutera detta. Den här upphandlingen påbörjades för många många år sedan och har varit föremål för rättsprocesser. Vi har lärt oss en hel del under resans gång.” (“We see a great need for a system like this. Therefore, within the city, we will sit down and discuss this. This procurement began many, many years ago and has been the subject of legal proceedings. We have learned a lot along the way.”).