Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Advertisement

Bike sharing company renames 350 vehicles following 'riding' language blip

App users took to Twitter to complain about the linguistic oversight.

Image: Sam Boal via Rolling News

A BIKE SHARING company has changed the names of a large fleet of its vehicles following complaints surrounding the use of female names to identify bicycles in conjunction with the phrase “riding” on their app.

Moby Bikes, an Irish company providing push and delivery bike services across the US, UK, Ireland and the Netherlands, used human names to organise its fleet, drawing on Irish names such as Maeve, Brigid, Liam and Thomas to identify vehicles.

The company also used planet and country names, such as Jupiter, Earth and India, in labelling its bicycles, a spokesperson for Moby Bikes Ireland has said.

App users are notified of the name of the bike they are travelling on throughout the duration of their journey as well as the cost.

However, the use of the verb “to ride” in an Irish context followed by female names on such notifications has sparked complaints among consumers, who have described the system as “sexist” and “inappropriate” online.

The backlash resulted in the company changing the name of some 350 bicycles and reverting their identification process to a numerical labelling system.

Speaking to The Journal, Moby’s spokesperson said that the company’s previous naming system is one that has been adopted by bike sharing companies across the UK and Europe to personalise the consumer experience and facilitate easier customer service reporting.

He said: “In the same way the Irish Navy has vessels named Ciara, Roisin and Niamh and Aer Lingus has planes named Brigid and Ailbhe, we also used Irish-sounding names such as Maeve.

“We do indeed use female names for some of our bikes and we also use male names for others.

“We and other operators across the industry have found this to be a fun and engaging way to connect with our customer base as often users will specifically rent the bike with their own name or a name that they have a connection with.”

Some app users have said that they could only find female-named vehicles while searching for available bicycles.

These claims have been rejected by the company, who said that names are “randomly selected” and estimated that the ratio of female, male and “obscure”, gender-neutral names works out at approximately 40:40:20.

Commenting on the use of the word “ride” in the context of female-named bicycles, the spokesperson said that the verb is widely used across the mobility industry and is not connected to the colloquial meaning of the word in Irish slang, which has sexual connotations.

“Unfortunately a sexualised or slang interpretation of ‘to ride’, was immediately seized upon and caused outrage on Twitter,” he said.

“In light of this controversy, yesterday afternoon we decided that the 350 new pedal bikes in Dublin City are better off being labelled as inanimate objects and the names were reverted to 0051, 0052, 0053 [and so on].”

Launched in 2019, Moby Bikes is currently based in Glasnevin in north Dublin. The company’s dockless electric bike share scheme, Moby Move, operates across the capital city and in Westmeath.

Making a difference

A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article.

Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can make sure we can keep reliable, meaningful news open to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

About the author:

Read next:

COMMENTS (39)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel