General News / August 9, 2022

Electric bike company renames 350 rental bikes following “riding” mistake

Image: Unsplash
General News / August 9, 2022

Electric bike company renames 350 rental bikes following “riding” mistake

Words: Ellen Kenny

While the rental company is an Irish one, it seemed to forget this classic colloquialism, leading to some unfortunately phrased rental bikes.

A bike sharing company has renamed 350 bikes following online controversy over the “everyday sexism” of the app’s interface.

MOBY is a bike rental company that has individual names for each bike on their app. Users can see the name of the bike they are using for the duration of the journey. MOBY claims that the app uses a variety of female and male names, as well the names of planets and countries. They have stated that the ratio of male to female to genderless names is 40:40:20.

However, the company recently came under fire when Twitter users pointed out a clear slip up in the app’s phrasing.

The MOBY app informs user that “you are riding [the bike’s name]”. This is easily digestible in any other country around the world. But any Irish person will know the immediate sexual connotations of “riding” in Irish slang.

This connotation appeared to be lost on Irish company MOBY. So anyone using the bike share was treated to a nasty surprise while using the app.

Dr. Eemer Eivers felt uncomfortable about the sexual connotations of her rental bike, and informed the company about this issue. Users on Twitter described this double meaning as “inappropriate” and “beyond belief”. Other users of the MOBY app claimed they only saw female names on the app.

In an interview, Eivers explained she contacted MOBY about the issue. The company responded that the feminine names are “empowering” for women using the app. Of course, it wasn’t the female names that were the issue, but the tone-deaf use of the term “ride.”

Since receiving more complaints, MOBY 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 [etc.].”

So keep an eye out on the MOBY app, and you might just be the lucky user who gets the notification, “You are Riding – 0069.”

MOBY Bikes’ defense

A spokesperson for MOBY explained that the company have used this naming system across Europe and the US.

“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.”

Of course, the likes of America and Spain don’t know the same innuendos as Irish users, and a more finely-tuned user interface would have saved the company a lot of embarrassment.

In fact, Twitter users outside Ireland have shown that MOBY does indeed use female names in their own countries, but do not include any phrasing like they do in Ireland. So this could be a genuine mistake from MOBY, or a botched attempt at humour.

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