York City rental-bike vandalism 'no surprise' to many

Jason Addy

York City’s new bike-sharing initiative got off to a bumpy start over the weekend after someone stole some of the bicycles’ front tires in the program’s first days.

Two Zagster bikes are shown Sunday without front tires at a bike station on West King Street. The bikes are part of a program that launched Friday in York City. Randy Flaum photo.

Two Zagster bikes could be seen Sunday at the West King Street pick-up station without front wheels. York City Mayor Kim Bracey said she was disappointed but not deterred by the vandalism after stopping by the rack of bikes on her way to church Sunday morning.

The potential for vandalism and theft of the bikes was always known and was addressed in the city's agreement with Zagster, Bracey said. The city has been in touch with Zagster about fixing the two bikes, Bracey said, adding the vandalism will not discourage city officials' plans to expand the program.

The Zagster bike-sharing program launched Friday with 14 bikes installed at three locations around York City.

York City to launch bike-sharing program Friday

No surprise: Like many of those commenting online about the reported vandalism, York City Council President Michael Helfrich said city officials should have seen it coming.

The bikes are equipped with several built-in security features, including a Bluetooth-enabled locking mechanism that stops a bike from being ridden without a connection, as well as lights, reflectors and a bell.

Despite those features, Helfrich said it was obvious to him at the launch Friday that the bikes' seats and front tires could be taken with minimal effort.

“This wasn’t a surprise to me,” Helfrich said.

He said he pointed out several security issues to Bureau of Health officials at the program’s launch, but he said staff told him Zagster would cover any loss or damages.

York City is an urban community, so bicycle theft and vandalism is nothing new, Bracey said. City officials treat this type of vandalism much like they treat graffiti. Damaged bikes will be repaired or replaced, and those who caused the damage will be arrested, she said.

"Idle hands and idle minds have an opportunity" to vandalize and cause property damage, Bracey said, reminding residents and others there are "cameras everywhere" in the city.