Two years ago, shortly after returning from a visit to Copenhagen and meeting Mikael Colville-Andersen, I wondered Is Copenhagen's new GoBike bike share system too complicated and expensive? It was pitched as a different kind of bike share,
GoBike is an integrated transport solution – "the missing link" in public transportation. By integrating public transport – and focusing it around the flexible city bike – GoBike's solutions will offer the first real alternative to car transport in the cities.
It was a small program with very expensive bikes. Colville-Andersen said at the time:
This is the grossest over-complication of a simple system I have ever seen.... It is overly-expensive and doomed to failure when there were easier solutions at hand.
I worried about the fancy tablets and GPS integrated into it, and wondered why they bother when most people have that in their pocket now, and noted that I had a perfectly good cycling experience on an inexpensive three-speed, with my iPhone giving me directions all the way.
Now it appears that Mikael was right all along; he writes on Copenhagenize about Watching Copenhagen bike share die. He notes again that the bikes were way too expensive for the operator to buy and for the user to rent. But then he gets to the nub of the matter:
The biggest mistake in Copenhagen is a complete misunderstanding of how people think and of civic pride. The successful bike share systems in Barcelona and Seville, for example, are for locals only. You can't use them if you don't live there. They are something for the locals, not the tourists. An important distinction. Locals rarely want to resemble tourists in any city. The Copenhagen GoBikes are just like the Bycykler that Copenhagen launched in 1995 - they are already labelled as a touristy thing.
It didn't help that there were way too few bikes and docking stations built, that it never got critical mass. Or that the supplier of the bikes went bust. Mikael concludes:
A product that is well-designed, intuitive and that actually serves a practical need will market itself. Failed design won't.
Really, it's too bad. More at Copenhagenize.