The decision by mobility company Uber to pull its electric, dockless bicycles from several Brussels municipalities was guided by opportunistic and capitalistic interests, one municipal mayor said.
The comments by Molenbeek mayor Catherine Moureaux come after Uber announced that it would suspend its electric bike-sharing services in several Brussels municipalities, citing a "substantial number" of incidents of theft and vandalism.
"We need the same services everywhere," Moureaux said in an interview with BX1, adding that she regretted the company only "reached out to local authorities when it had already announced to leave."
Moureaux said that the vandalism the company was citing consisted mostly of "tweaks" done to the bikes by users unwilling to pay for a ride, referring to it as instances of theft rather than of damage caused to the units.
"These companies are quick to abandon neighbourhoods, which is the opposite [logic] of a public service," she said, calling out Uber's "hard-hearted capitalism" and citing the example of public bike-sharing scheme operator Villo, who she said worked "successfully" with the municipality.
The mayor added that the company's objective was above all commercial, calling out its "opportunism," and wondering whether the company was trying to gain leverage as officials crack down on parking regulations for dockless mobility services.
Moureaux's predecessor and current Molenbeek alderwoman Françoise Schepmans said she understood the mobility company's decision, citing gang-related problems.
"In some neighbourhoods, there is insecurity, disturbances, vandalism because some gangs are left to do as they will," she said, according to BX1.
Echoing Schepman's comments, Molenbeek councillor Michaël Vossaert "denounced the vandalism and incivilities" that led to the company's decision but regretted that Molenbeek's inhabitants were being "refused" access to an innovative mobility solution.
In a statement, Vossaert called for the company to work with local authorities to find a common solution.
The Brussels Times