Investigation by stiftung warentest: poor safety with rental bikes

Various bikesharing providers were tested for road safety and data protection. The results leave much to be desired.

Rental bikes in Germany: not such a good idea. Maybe Swiss bikes are better companions? Photo: dpa

Rental bikes that can be booked via smartphone app, which are now part of the street scene in many cities, are often unsafe, according to Stiftung Warentest. Of six providers examined, four failed, as the testers announced on Tuesday. Convince could only Nextbike and Call a Bike of the German course, which received in each case the note "good".

Above all the brakes, which are often clearly too weak, could become dangerous in an emergency, the testers warned. "Maintenance should only be spaced far enough apart to keep the bikes safe," demanded Anke Scheiber, project manager at Stiftung Warentest.

Among other things, brakes, workmanship and air pressure were tested; damage to handlebars, tires and pedals was also scrutinized. According to the foundation, other test criteria included the "sometimes critical to very critical data transmission behavior" and the user-friendliness of the app and website. Some of these were poorly translated, and some of the terms and conditions were only available in English.

The testers advised bikesharing users to test the brakes and check the lights and air pressure on the rental bikes before setting off. Luggage fastenings and mudguards should also be checked and, in the case of pedelecs, the battery inspected.

Deutsche Bahn explained that rental bikes have long been "more than just an offer for the ‘last mile’ from the station to the destination. Instead, they contribute to relieving cities of car traffic and "regain more quality of life," explained Jurgen Gudd, CEO of Deutsche Bahn Connect. The quality rating by Stiftung Warentest confirms the company’s strategy of "focusing on quality and sustainability.

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