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West Midlands seeking new bike-share supplier after only 25 out of 5,000 bikes were delivered

Nextbike struggled to find a corporate sponsor for the scheme

The West Midlands bike share scheme that was supposed to see 3,000 and 5,000 bikes made available across multiple cities and towns is looking for a new supplier after German firm Nextbike managed to deliver just 25. The firm has previously blamed technology issues and problems finding a sponsor for the scheme.

The scheme was originally due to launch in September 2018. However, in November it was announced that it would be delayed.

A pilot scheme was launched in Wolverhampton in February, but Birmingham Live reports that no further bikes were delivered.

The Express and Star reports that only around 1,100 individual rides have taken place, at an average of around seven per day.

A briefing note prepared by officials at Transport for the West Midlands stated: "Under the contract agreed last year, Nextbike committed to deliver 5,000 bikes across the West Midlands with the first batch arriving by September 2018, with the reminder rolling out in 2019.

"Despite numerous promises to get the scheme up and running to date it has only provided 25 bikes for a limited trial in Wolverhampton City Centre."

Nextbike is now said to be offering only a fraction of the 5,000 bikes agreed and West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is thus terminating the contract.

Labour MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, Liam Byrne, commented: "I don't know why our Tory mayor can't organise a cycling scheme in what was once the capital of Britain's cycling industry. But I know I speak for cyclists, old and new, when I say we'd like some answers."

A Transport for the West Midlands spokesperson said: "Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has terminated its contract with Nextbike after persistent breaches by the provider.

"TfWM remains committed to providing a bike share scheme for the West Midlands and is considering alternative options."

Krysia Solheim, managing director of Nextbike UK, said: "Nextbike operates in more than 200 territories and is proud to be the most extensive bike share scheme in the world.

"Our track record is second to none and only yesterday we were praised in Parliament for the inclusivity and community-minded nature of our ground-breaking projects.

"We are understandably disappointed by WMCA's decision to terminate the contract and we have had extensive discussions with the team in Birmingham about how to make this work. While we have already outlined the reason behind some of the delays – none of which were in our powers to change – we remained truly committed to delivering a bike share scheme that the West Midlands would be proud of."

Speaking about the challenges the firm has faced last week, Solheim said: “We originally planned to have the scheme in full operation by the end of 2019.

“Finding one title corporate sponsor proved a bigger challenge than originally expected, so we decided to change our strategy to focus on regional and shared sponsorship.”

She also said the firm had, “experienced an unfortunate difficulty in our global supply chain concerning a key element of the smart technology we use in our bikes,” but said both issues had been resolved.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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Gkam84 | 4 years ago
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BehindTheBikesheds | 4 years ago
1 like

Bike hire schemes (it's not a share scheme!) prove that there isn't enough investment in cycling and that the infrastructure is piss poor and not enough dissentive to motorists. In Netherlands there is only OV fiets of any note and that's 14500 bikes for the whole of the country over 250 locations.

If you have joined up transport system and importantly allow people on bikes to access directly and continuously between towns/cities incl direct from urban/suburban areas then bike share should be for infrequent visitors/tourists to the area. Even then we should be encouraging people to use their own bikes anyway and certainly as above having to put the bike back to a set location within the hire area.

CygnusX1 | 4 years ago

The trouble with bike share schemes is they just don't work - or at least the dockless ones don't.

  • Not enough bikes - nobody is going to sign up, on the remote chance of one of 25 bikes being available.
  • Too many bikes - piles on street corners
  • Just the right amount - okay for a while, until a significant minority are vandalised, stolen, dumped in canals ... see not enough bikes.
  • Too small a geo-fence area - typically town centres - walking/public transport just as, if not more, convenient
  • Too wide a geo-fence area - the bikes get spread too thin, who's going to sign up on the remote chance that a bike may be available at the end of their street when they need it?

At least the london Ken bikes (for it was Ken Livingstone, not our new PM Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson who introduced them) you have a reasonable chance of neing able to find one, although finding an empty docking station at the end of your ride can be a bit of a lottery - especially if making your journey into the city centre at rush hour.  


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