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Moby Move bicycle share calls a customer’s ‘everyday sexism’ claim “false” and “stupid”

— Moby turns to anti-cycling radio shock jock to defend a claim of everyday sexism.
— Moby retweets tweet that they will “not pander to the perpetually offended”.

After a  customer called out an example of everyday sexism, it seemed that the bicycle share company, Moby Move, back down from using the words “you are riding” along with female names. But the story didn’t end there.

For international readers: In Irish slang, “riding” means sexual intercourse.

A represntive from Moby appeared on shock jock Niall Boylan’s shown on Classic Hits Radio and outlined how they were reinstating the names — Boylan tweeted that the company “insists they are not bowing down to the woke culture” and will “not pander to the perpetually offended” — the latter tweet was retweeted by Moby before they removed their retweet.

All a mistake? We contacted Moby to check.

First, educational researcher Dr Eemer Eivers, who first complained about the naming of the bikes, told Newstalk yesterday that naming along with the word “riding” implied that users are “riding woman” who “are for hire by the minute”.

She joked that an error with Moby’s app also disallowed her from ending the bicycle rental which meant that she was “riding Maeve for 24 hours”. She said: “I felt like introducing her to the family at that point”. Moby refunded the money relating to the error, she said.

Stefanie Preissner, who is standing in for Seán Moncrieff on Newstalk, said: “I know we’re joking about this story, but it raising a larger issue that in a year when we have spoken about woman’s rights for a variety of reasons, this sort of casual misogyny is just accepted.”

“It’s just not acceptable and people are still doing it. It’s sort of shocking — like, this is 2022 lads,” said Preissner.

Eivers said: “My background is educational research and I would engage a lot with students… there’s a big issue when young girls hit puberty, they disengage from sports and activities. A report from An Taisce says that only 1 in 250 girls cycle to school and 1 in 25 boys — there’s a huge difference.”

She continued: “And the reasons they say it was because of harassment, catcalling, fells shouting at them as they are going to school, and school uniforms, particularly skirts, not being suitable for cycling to school. There’s enough barriers for girls engaging in bikes and engaging in sports in Dublin, the last thing we need is some bunch of tech bros basically going ‘here, you can ride Maeve’.”

She said that such language has a massive effect on girls’ confidence and their capacity to engage with bicycle rental services and “enables men to fling smart comments at them”.

Asked about the claims of sexism by IrishCycle.com today, Moby Move said: “False claims of sexism you mean? It was never the case that all our bikes were named after women.”

But on Newstalk, Eivers — who is a data scientist — said that she looked through the bicycles shown on the Moby app in her area and that all she could find were female names — which she said would amount to a “weird statistical abnormality” if 50% of the bicycles had male names as the company had claimed.

Moby referred to a theJournal.ie article where it’s outlined that it claims the ratio of female, male and “obscure”, gender-neutral is split around 40:40:20.

Responding to Eivers, Moby said today: “She may have been using ‘the bike near me’ as opposed to ‘full map’ function. We don’t distribute bikes to areas based on names, so it could have been [the] case the bikes around her had female names. but there were many bikes male and female named in the city on Saturday and Sunday, we have the system logs to show.”

Pushed on this issue of how it would be a “weird statistical abnormality” if no male names could be found, Moby said: “And this user is familar with bike sharing software and distrubuiton logistics? no, so its stupid comment to make.”

The reply was made via direct message to the official Moby Move Twitter account. When asked who was replying, they said “MOBY Bikes” and when pushed on their real name, they said they were Barry the social media manager, but did not give a last name even after repeated requests.

After the “stupid” comment was made, IrishCycle.com then reached out to Thomas O Connell, founder and CEO of Moby Bikes via Linkedin.

Asked if he was standing by a public-facing company employee calling a woman’s comments, relating to her claim of sexism, “stupid”, O Connell said: “If you were correct in what you are saying I would not stand by it. But you are not correct.”

The comment from Eivers that it would be a “weird statistical abnormality” if there were no male-named bicycles in her area seems to be core to her claim of everyday sexism. But O Connell maintained it was a “separate comment on a separate topic”.

He said: “The way I read the Twitter DM is that Barry was saying ‘the claim was false and the comment about the statistics of the system was stupid as how would this person know ‘ so very different to your interpretation.”

Asked if he was sure his company has no issue with sexism, he said he was “very sure”.

Regarding if there were male names as well as female names on the bicycles available on Moby’s app system over the weekend. O Connell said: “Like I said we can prove it. That kind of should be the end of the story and you should be asking for proof surely? Unless you have another agenda?”

This was the first point that he had offered such “proof” other than saying the company had proof.

O Connell then emailed IrishCycle.com two blurry images with limited information — he did not offer any other proof when this was pointed out.

These are the blurry images which he emailed:

Not responding directly to any question, O Connell offered Eivers wouldn’t be able to check if male names were available because he said that “I don’t believe it’s possible to do that while a bike is rented. And her bike was rented for hours”, referring to the error which would not let her stop the rental. As if the app could not be checked after the rental error was fixed or by using another phone.

“Not pander to the perpetually offended”

Moby Move earlier today had retweeted two tweets from shock jock Niall Boylan. The retweets were undone before IrishCycle.com contacted Moby but not before the retweets were screenshotted as below.

Asked about the removal of the retweets, “Barry, the social media manager from Moby Bikes” said: “The reason we deleted [our] Niall Boylan’s [re]tweets is cause we’ll be reposting the same content from the Classic Hits Radio channels instead.”

One of the tweets from Boylan, which Moby retweeted, said: “What is actually wrong with people who get offended and upset by a phrase & clever marketing use of double meanings. Have people lost all sense of humour. Anybody finding this offensive needs to get out more as they are clearly desperate to be offended.”

The other of Boylan’s tweet which Moby retweeted said: “I have to say I’m very honoured that @MobyMove have named four bikes after me. So if you manage to “Ride Niall Boylan” when you rent a bike in Ireland, let me know. I’m so glad the company are going to reinstate using names and not pander to the perpetually offended 😄”

In separate tweets, Boylan described how he has “David Maloney, the General Manager [of Moby] is talking to me on-air now.” And Boylan said that Maloney said “We have female names, male names, country names…the whole thing is to make a connection with the bike”.

Boylan added: “David has vowed that they will be going back to placing names on their bikes. He insists they are not bowing down to the woke culture.”

An unnamed Moby spokesman told theJournal.ie that to ‘ride’ was an industry term, and that “Unfortunately a sexualised or slang interpretation of ‘to ride’, was immediately seized upon and caused outrage on Twitter.”

According to another article, on the Irish Mirror’s website, David Maloney, who is quoted as a general manager of Moby, said: “I understand within Ireland the word ‘Ride’ has been taken also in a slang manner, however, this has nothing to do with the real meaning of the word which as I say, is completely normalised and synonymous within the industry right across the globe.”

But on Boylan’s show Maloney is recorded as laughing on air and joking “I was thinking ‘is there anybody who would like to ride Niall Boylan'”. Boylan interrupts: “The bike, of course, the bike”. Which Maloney agreed: “Yeah. [Laughter]… so what we done is named four bikes called we’ve spread them out around the city… and you can ride Niall Boylan to your heart’s content…”. This isn’t a clip this website uncovered or went looking for — Moby sent IrishCycle.com a link to it.

*****

EDIT: This article was edited within around an hour of publication to clarify that Eivers is a data scientist. In the line “But on Newstalk, Eivers — who is a data scientist — said…”, the section which says “who is a data scientist” was added.

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