Transport for London (TfL) has pleaded with Londoners to treat Santander Cycles hire bikes with more care. A Freedom of Information request has revealed that around 200 a year are scrapped after being damaged beyond repair.
There are 11,500 bikes across the capital. The London Evening Standard reports that 10,782 broken pedals needed replacing last year, along with 6,684 wheels and 5,916 inner tubes.
David Eddington, TfL’s head of cycle hire, seemed to imply that much of the damage stemmed from everyday mistreatment, rather than vandalism.
“I see quite regularly people bumping down kerbs, and when docking, do you really need to do it with such force? That will cause issues with the motor. You also get people who just throw it to the floor. We just want people to treat them as if it was their own bike.”
Another issue has been bikes taken from parks when on the stand and the hirer’s back is turned.
Eddington said: “The introduction of dockless bikes has confused customers over how to treat our bikes, as you can leave them anywhere. I wonder whether that’s rubbed off on some of our customers.
“We’ve never seen anyone release a bike either physically or mechanically from a dock. Unfortunately we see in the parks peoples’ bikes taken under threat at times, it’s mugging for bikes.”
TfL would not reveal how much it cost maintenance provider Serco to fix the bikes as part of its annual service fee, claiming the information was “commercially sensitive,” but Eddington said usable parts were recovered and that some of the original frames were still on the roads from the 2010 launch of the scheme.
While damage to Santander Cycles seems common, dockless bike share schemes have tended to be even more vulnerable to vandalism and theft.
Yesterday we reported that the dockless stations for Edinburgh’s Just Eat Cycles bike hire scheme are to close due to unexpectedly high levels of vandalism, while in 2018, Mobike pulled out of Manchester because the number of bikes damaged or stolen made the operation unsustainable.