HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The City of Holyoke says there has been an increase in vandalism with bicycles from the city’s bike share program.
Holyoke is one of the several communities in western Massachusetts that has a bike share program through Bewegen Technologies. In recent weeks, there have been reports of vandalized and damaged bicycles throughout the city.
“People use ValleyBike, whether its for tourism, whether its to get to work… just touring around the city, having a nice bike ride,” said Aaron Vega, the Planning & Economic Development Director. “Unfortunately there has been some negative users lately. They are not just negatively using them but they are trashing them.”
According to the Holyoke Mayor’s office, the following incidents have been reported:
- Four bikes thrown into a canal
- Bikes not returned at the appropriate time and left abandoned
- Bikes permanently damaged
- Bikes left in remote locations
- Fake accounts are being created to purchase the usage of bikes
- Batteries being removed from bikes and sold
“What really is happening is that they are using fake IDs and fake credit cards to get these bikes and then running them until the GPS runs out until they are untraceable and then dump them,” said Vega.
Each bike permanently damaged costs up to $1,200 to replace. The city’s Planning & Economic Development is asking for the public’s help in reporting these incidents to the Holyoke Police Department at 413-322-6999. If you find an abandoned bike, you can notify Bewegen Technologies by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The Mayor’s office is reminding residents that the bikes are owned by the city and any misuse is illegal.
Vega says the city has no plans to remove the bike share program if the vandalism continues but stricter actions could be made, such as decreasing the amount of time the bike can be used in efforts to stop the illegal activity.
Bike share programs are also used in Amherst, Chicopee, Easthampton, Northampton, South Hadley, Springfield, West Springfield, UMass Amherst and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.