The manufacturer of the $2.36 million Baltimore Bike Share system said his company has never experienced the level of theft that caused officials to announce a temporary shutdown of the program to allow additional locking devices to be installed to the bike docking stations, reports the Baltimore Sun. The original locks on the bike stations were overwhelmed by thieves ripping the bicycles out at an unprecedented pace, said Alain Ayotte, CEO of Bewegen Technologies. “We don’t have this issue anywhere else, not at this level,” Ayotte said. The bike-share program launched last fall with 200 bicycles at 20 stations and was supposed to grow to 500 bicycles at 50 stations in the spring.
But it has suffered so many thefts and maintenance backups that most of the bicycles are out of service. The program will close Sunday and reopen Oct. 15. Ayotte declined to describe in detail the original locks or the new ones, citing proprietary technology. Officials have declined to say how many bicycles have been stolen. The bicycles are outfitted with GPS technology, so the stolen or abandoned bikes were usually recovered. But thefts and other non-returns of the bicycles had become such an issue that two maintenance employees were devoted solely to bike recovery, officials said. The bikes cost $2 to rent for a 45-minute single trip or $15 for a monthly pass.