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Mancunians dialed 999 about Mobikes daily in early days of scheme – but issues declining and firm has asked city if it can expand

Several early reports were due to unfamiliarity with the mechanics of dockless bike-sharing

Greater Manchester Police received 29 emergency calls about the city’s Mobike scheme in just 27 days after its launch, but with teething issues now waning, the dockless bike-share firm has now asked the city whether it can expand.

There were a number of reports of bikes being deliberately damaged or deposited in canals after Mobike arrived in Manchester at the end of June. However, several reports related to bike abandonment, resulting from unfamiliarity with Mobike’s innovative dockless sharing system.

Crime logs obtained by i News under Freedom of Information laws have revealed that in the first 27 days of the scheme, there were 17 reports of criminal damage to the bikes, 13 reports of lost bikes, 10 reports of theft, handling or fraud, four of “suspicious circumstances”. Police also received reports of a robbery, violence and  two cases of “rowdy behaviour”.

The Manchester Evening News reports that one bike was sprayed gold and had its basket removed.

Greater Manchester Police said that neighbourhood officers would focus on “preventative tactics” but Mobike says it has seen a “steady decline” in issues since its early days in the city and is hoping to expand the scheme from the 1,000 bikes currently in operation.

Steve Pyer, UK general manager of Mobike, said: “In every city we have launched, we have observed a small element of misuse in the weeks following launch, but the number of issues always decrease.

“It is the case for Manchester – the amount of vandalism reports stabilised a few weeks into the scheme, and is now steadily declining. In addition to this natural decline, we have been working closely with Greater Manchester Police to keep these issues to an absolute minimum – and to ensure that, whenever possible, cases of vandalism are turned into positive learning experiences for the people involved.”

Pyer said that the scheme is being used properly and responsibly by “the vast majority of people” in Manchester and Salford and added that the firm was now looking to increase the number of bikes available.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from local businesses and community centres who want to partner with Mobike and establish dedicated schemes for their employees.

“We’ve also heard from a lot of individual users about how much they love the scheme and how it’s impacted their journey to work and weekend activities. Both user and trip growth from the first 1,000 bikes are far beyond our expectations.

“The impact has been so positive that we’ve been asked to expand the scheme within Manchester – and will communicate on this in more details in the next few weeks.”

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