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Major fall in Belfast bike hire vandalism

16 August 2019

Overnight closure of docking stations in problem areas is one of the methods that have dramatically reduced vandalism to Belfast’s hire bikes, the city council said this week.

Damage to hire bikes has been a problem in several UK cities. Last year Mobike cited unsustainable losses from theft and vandalism when it withdrew from Manchester, and last month Cardiff Council said misuse and vandalism had reduced the availability of hire bikes (LTT 5 Jul).

The Belfast Bike scheme launched in April 2015 with 30 docking stations and 300 bikes and suffered extensive vandalism. But last year, the fourth year of operation, the costs of vandalism were 70 per cent lower than in the previous year. “Extensive work has been ongoing with local communities, elected members, schools and the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) to reduce the incidents,” a council spokesman told LTT.

He said operator Nextbike removes bikes from “problem stations” overnight and restocks the stations in the mornings. Other initiatives to cut misuse include: crime prevention signs at terminals; working with Nextbike to make the system more vandal-proof; promoting hire bike usage and anti-vandalism messages in local communities; and presentations at schools.

Belfast is studying further improvements and potential expansion. The scheme has already grown to encompass 46 docking stations.

“The council secured a new sponsor, Just Eat, in year four,” said the spokesman. “Sponsorship income contributes to the operating costs and ensures the membership costs and usage charges are affordable. 

“There are over 17,000 active members registered to the scheme and over 819,000 journeys have been made since the scheme was launched. Annual membership subscriptions increased by 10 per cent in year four with over 5,500 members. In addition, there has been a high uptake of the pay-as-you-go option introduced in April 2018.”

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