GPS equipment on hire bikes in Cardiff has been improved as part of efforts to reduce vandalism, which is now affecting 3.5 bikes per day on average.
Operator Nextbike says the launch of its Cardiff scheme in March 2018 was its most successful ever in the UK, based on the numbers of customers and rentals in the first year. The scheme now has almost 58,000 registered users, who have made about 490,000 rentals to date. Further expansion is planned.
However, Krysia Solheim, Nextbike UK managing director, said: “Unfortunately, the fleet has experienced numerous vandalism incidents over the past few months with bikes being stolen or severely damaged. We’re aware that the main perpetrators are a small number of youths and we’re working closely with the police and Cardiff Council to help reduce thefts and vandalism.
“We’ve made a number of physical and technical improvements to the bikes since the fleet was launched, including improved GPS tracking, to reduce thefts and vandalism. We have also amended our registration process and the fee system to ensure full customer traceability and accountability.
“In terms of vandalised bikes, Nextbike is currently reporting an average of 3.5 vandalised bikes to police a day.”
Solheim said users could reduce the risk of theft by properly returning bikes to official stations. Any customers who misused bikes would be fined, and persistent offenders would have their accounts terminated.
“The city has really taken the scheme to its heart, which makes the vandalism the scheme is currently experiencing very upsetting not only for Nextbike but for those many thousands of customers who rely on the scheme to get around Cardiff.”
The Belfast Bikes scheme, also operated by Nextbike, has seen a 70 per cent reduction in vandalism in one year, as a result of initiatives such as overnight closure of problem docking stations (LTT 16 August). Solheim said Nextbike had no plans to remove bikes from any Cardiff docking stations overnight.
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