Aug 19, 2021 - News
Thieves steal new Des Moines metro electric bikes
Two electric bikes are docked at a BCycle station in the Des Moines metro area.
A new BCycle station at Colby Park. Photo courtesy of BCycle

A Des Moines nonprofit running the metro's newest electric bike program has had at least $12,000 in equipment stolen this summer.

State of play: BCycle — operated by the nonprofit Street Collective — rolled out the bike sharing system in June.

  • People can rent e-bikes from docks around the metro for a small fee. There are currently about 55 out for public use.

What happened: In the first week of July, three batteries were stolen, each worth $450, said Mike Armstrong, Street Collective's planning and communications director.

  • The nonprofit took back the bikes and spent several thousand dollars to install new locks to prevent battery thefts.
  • The group returned them to their stations two weeks later.

But by late July, four entire e-bikes were stolen.

  • "This is not something that happened in Omaha, Madison, in our peer cities," Armstrong said. "We expected some troubleshooting and some risk, but this was pretty unexpected for us."

Between the lines: To try and prevent more thefts, Street Collective has added credit card holds on the e-bikes, but resorting to these methods adds barriers for people who want to use them, Armstrong said.

  • The $10 hold is cost-prohibitive, and adds up if someone rents multiple bikes.

The big picture: Street Collective was trying to do good in the city, but their unexpected bill puts a big stress on the small group.

  • You can help the nonprofit recuperate its losses by donating on Venmo @Street-Collective or on their site. Consider volunteering as well, or using BCycle.
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