The NoBike app

oBike - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The River Tevere in Rome looks great today. I’d love to explore it. It’s such a grand river that it’ll take me an age to walk along and discover new bridges and vistas.

I’d like to see the Herons again:

As well as watching the Cormorants fishing and drying themselves as if they’re their own washing:

Even just seeing some Yellow-Legged Gulls would be wonderful:

As I ponder what to do with my day and how to discover some wildlife along the River I spot a bright-orange-wheeled bike. There’s a bike sharing scheme in Rome: brilliant.

All I need to do is download the app and pay a few euro cents every 20 or 30 minutes and I’ll be laughing, freewheeling for miles amongst the birds, wild flowers and stunning ancient architecture of Lungotevere. Perfect.

“Download the oBike app from the Apple App Store”, it says. I search for oBike. There’s no such app. There’s a MoBike App which has the same colour scheme and logo. That must be it. Maybe they’ve updated the corporate ID and haven’t updated all the bikes yet? I click to download the MoBike App and it tells me it’s only available in the Singapore App store, so I switch to the Singapore App store. I click to download it and it says I can’t use the Singapore App store and I have to use the UK App store, so I switch to that. So far, so confusing.

I download the app and register with my UK mobile number. I’m in Rome. It has no problem accepting my mobile number and sending me a confirmation security code.

It works! All I have to do is pay a £15 deposit and £5 credit and then I’ll be able to scan a bar code on any MoBike and take off, free as a bird to see the wildlife along the River. Fabulous. I pay the £20. It has no problem accepting my money. Lovely.

oBike - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I’m standing next to an oBike in the centre of Rome. I look at the map on my phone and it says “Out of service area”. Ignoring that, I scan the bar code on the bike and get the message, “The bike number you entered does not exist, please check the bike number and try again.”

I’m in Rome: there’s a MoBike bike sharing scheme here. I’m not out of the service area. I’m standing next to a MoBike. It has a QR code on it. It does exist.

Of course, I try it again. The outcome is never different in this digital age, is it?

I send them a support question using their App. There’s no answer, for now.

I’ve got the River in front of me, a bike next to me, I’m £20 poorer and I can’t unlock it. I walk off disconsolately.

I pass other oBikes as I wander. Many seem to be missing their seats. I find an intact one and, stupidly, I try scanning its bar code with my phone. The outcome is never different in this digital age, is it?

oBike - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I was a young man when I first had the bright idea of using a bike-sharing scheme here. Now just look at this graffiti portrait of me.

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