Green Apple Bikes continues to struggle with theft, hoarding

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Since the introduction of the Green Apple Bikes program to Manhattan in September 2015, the bike sharing service has faced numerous struggles. With bikes becoming difficult to find, some students are questioning its ability to continue as a viable means of transportation.

Green Apple Bikes has a motto: “Ride, Respect, Return.” Though this motto tells users what to do, the program does not have any framework in place to ensure the public follows the rules.

In the Green Apple Bikes program manual, the company identifies these persisting issues: safety, vandalism, theft, harsh weather, maintenance and abandoned bicycles.

Jillian Algiere, program director of Green Apple Bikes, expressed her concern with bikes disappearing into private residences.

“We are extremely aware of this problem,” Algiere said. “It is indeed the most prevalent issue our program faces. [It’s] taking away from the public as a whole.”

Theft and other issues plaguing Green Apple Bikes could easily be resolved by charging people money to use the bicycles, but the company doesn’t want to do that, Algiere said.

Some students living on campus view the lack of bikes as a major problem, as the resident halls’ parking situation requires students to walk long distances to their classes.

Micah Canady, sophomore in personal finance, said he has given up on looking for them all together, opting instead to purchase his own bike. As a resident of Wefald Hall, Canady explained the predicament of those living on campus.

“I know I’m not the only person living on campus that hates walking to their car, especially as the temperature begins to drop,” Canady said.

Grace Kinman, junior in economics, said she considers the treatment of Green Apple Bikes to be a mockery of their intended use.

“The bikes were made for the community, and they placed racks throughout campus and along the perimeter,” Kinman said. “But when I walk to class, I always see at least four or five Green Apple Bikes chained to the outside of buildings. I’ve seen a few hidden behind dumpsters and even one buried in some bushes.”

Canady said the poor treatment of the bikes is disappointing.

“It’s really a mixture of those who care and are responsible, and those who are not,” Canady said. “It’s a shame that a few, or maybe many, people are abusing the system and ruining it for the rest of us.”

Some Green Apple Bikes are also in relatively poor condition, but Kinman is bothered more by their scarcity.

“The problem isn’t that the quality of the bikes is usually pretty low,” Kinman said. “I expect that. They’re public bikes, and they’re being used by tons of people every day, but it’s the fact that I can never find any anymore. People are hoarding them.”

Evidence of hoarding can be seen in a tweet from 2016 showing a photo of what appears to be a garage packed to the ceiling with Green Apple Bikes.

“This is what I think of when I think of their bikes,” Nathan Anderson, senior in graphic design, said. “Not people riding and using them, but a giant mass of bikes jumbled up in someone’s garage.”

Anderson said the treatment of the bikes is unsurprising in a college town.

“You really can’t get mad with Green Apple Bikes because this is all a reflection on the people of Manhattan,” Anderson said. “They’re providing us a free service, and they’re entrusting the public to be responsible with it.”

According to Algiere, a program worth viewing for those in need of a private bike is Essential Bikes.

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