TULSA, Okla. — A local non-profit working to offer accessible bike rides to Tulsa residents is seeing a spike in vandalism and theft.
These bikes are intended to give people access to transportation and fun rides, but vandals and thieves are reducing the number of bikes available.
“This machine, we are a bike share, a local non-profit here in Tulsa and people can rent our bikes here on the street, you can just scan the bike with your phone, you unlock, and you can ride it for 15 cents a minute,” Katie Sawiki, executive director with This Machine Tulsa Bike share said.
You've probably seen or used one of these bikes before. They are available across Tulsa. The bikes offer Tulsans environmentally friendly transportation and an option to exercise.
“We’ve been around since 2018, we converted the bikes to electric pedal assist and since then ridership has gone through the roof,” Sawiki said.
Just in the last year, Tulsans have taken more than 20 rides. With the increase in use, the non-profit has also seen a rise in theft and vandalism.
Sawiki said each month they've averaged one vandalism or theft, but in the first two weeks of December alone, they've had eight stolen.
“Each bike costs about 2,000 dollars, 25 bikes a year, that’s 50, thousand dollars. Eight bikes this month, that’s 16,000 dollars,” Sawiki said.
Sawiki said the program used to have 200 bikes, but right now they are down to 165. Of those, half of them are not in use due to vandalism or supply chain issues on getting parts.
She said bikes they recover usually have about 500 to one thousand dollars worth of damage to repair.
“If you think this is a great bike to steal, it’s not, it won’t work once you smash it and you won’t get any money for it, but it’s a huge, huge burden for us to bear, so please don’t do that,” Sawiki said.
They are asking anyone who has seen a stolen or vandalized bike to report it to This Machine Bike Share or Tulsa police.
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