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'Treat Boris Bikes with respect' says TfL after revealing 200 a year are scrapped due to damage

Among other damage, the 11,500 bikes suffered 10,782 broken pedals in a year

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.”

100 hire bikes being fished out of London canals each year

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.

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24 comments

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thereverent | 4 years ago
2 likes

Having seen a few times where a car/van/Taxi has hit bikes in a docking station and damaged several bikes I would thinke they have lost quite a few to this (as the frames are damaged).

The 'everyday misuse' I can understand with the docking of bikes (although some docks take some force to get the bike to engage). But you would have to be very harsh bumping the bike up a curb to damage it with the size tyres they have.

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Carton | 4 years ago
2 likes

“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."

While I agree with the general sentiment, I do think it this is a bit much. I bump down kerbs on my own bike, even though I'm a heavy guy and it's a nice enough bike with 23mm tyres. If you do it with any sort of skill you can easily get away with it. My guess is that they get punctured because they are often a bit underinflated. Similarly, the docks probably get further damaged because once they get a bit damaged they are hard to get to work, and so you do have to apply a bit of force to get it to lock. With the pedals, the same pattern may be at play, they need to get re-lubed more often because they are left outside forever. And then a fair bit of use with not enough grease leads to further damage. So, yeah, people aren't quite as careful with rentals. But it seems, from the sorts of damage described here, that it manifests itself in how we/they fail to do the corrective maintenance (in the case of tyre pressure, dock damage, and pedal creaking) we would identify and take care of in our own bikes. In part, because a lot them are in somewhat less than perfect shape, so it would also be counterproductive to flag every bike that creaks ever so slightly or lacks a bit of air pressure. 

 

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srchar | 4 years ago
2 likes

I think it's more a "these things are unbreakable" rather than DGAF. They are built like no other bike I've ever ridden. One metric ton of pure pig iron.

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Darren Franks | 4 years ago
2 likes

I see a lot of teens riding them who DGAF e.g. they'll pop the front wheel to go up a kerb and just smash the back wheel into it at speed. Which is odd, because I thought every teenager in London was basically Danny MacAskill.

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CroisDeBleurgh replied to Darren Franks | 4 years ago
1 like
Darren Franks wrote:

I see a lot of teens riding them who DGAF e.g. they'll pop the front wheel to go up a kerb and just smash the back wheel into it at speed. Which is odd, because I thought every teenager in London was basically Danny MacAskill.

They weigh 23kg, even getting the front wheel up is an effort sometimes. But I think you're right, it's more of a DGAF attitude than deliberate attempts to do damage. I wouldn't smash my own bike up a kerb, but a loaner bike built like a tank that I'll just jam into a rack when I'm done with it...?
Just wish they had a 4th gear.

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CXR94Di2 | 4 years ago
2 likes

You have to wonder at the mentality/social awareness to wamt to destroy these bikes.

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EddyBerckx | 4 years ago
0 likes

200 scrapped a year doesn't seem soooooo bad to me considering the high amount scrapped/lost by the dockless bike schemes.

800km per puncture? When they have marathon plus tyres? That's not right. Are they under inflated and prone to pinch flats? It's not unreasonable for them to be ridden down a kerb as they are often docked on the pavement...and as for potholes and bad roads...there are one or two in London.

The pedals? Cheap pedals or bikes being knocked over? I've not really seen any examples of misuse in all the years they've been around...whereas the dockless bikes are always on their side...

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kev-s | 4 years ago
2 likes

Ken's Cruiser's

 

 

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RMurphy195 | 4 years ago
0 likes

Assuming a puncture will result in replacement of the inner tube, the stats are quite surprising!

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burtthebike | 4 years ago
3 likes

Worth a thousand words.

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ktache | 4 years ago
1 like

Pedals tend to be a weak spot on a bicycle.  After keeping the drivetrain clean, and adjusting the brakes, my pedals are the thing I have to keep servicing.  As soon as they start spinning and play becomes apparent, it's a strip, clean, relube and rebuild.  The right more than the left.  There is a lot of force going through them, on quite a small area, nearer to the filth than most things and their seals do not seem to have improved as much as those on hubs or bottom brackets.  You are oftem putting all of your weight on a what is a single pivot.

I like aggressive flat mtb pedals, and they are notorious for not having a long life if not regularly serviced.

I still have a set of XT cage pedals that had very good seals, a shimano "SPD" style sleeve insert, tiny 3/32 bearings but never had a problem with dirt ingress.  No grip though and I had to use them with Power Grip straps (to my suprise still available).

I'm a bit shocked at their low inner tube replacement rate though.  Do they have teams of pro patchers or just very tough tyres.

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Sriracha | 4 years ago
0 likes

I guess it comes in the same reflex as dropping litter and other mindless damage of the common good. A sad reflection of the values to which some are brought up, and other fall.

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vonhelmet | 4 years ago
1 like

Last year people cycled nearly 50 million kilometres on tfl bikes. So that's over 800km per inner tube (good), about 750km per wheel (not so good, but not totally unfathomable) and about 450km per pedal (utterly bewildering).

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brooksby | 4 years ago
0 likes

Here in Bristol I've noticed a lot of our yellow "Yo Bikes" around seem to be missing their seat posts and saddles; rather than mindless vandalism I've assumed its a way of reserving a bike...?

 

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Tinbob49 | 4 years ago
1 like

Yes because Santander cycles is so much better!

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to Tinbob49 | 4 years ago
2 likes
Tinbob49 wrote:

Yes because Santander cycles is so much better!

 

Somewhat better, certainly.  (Though I suppose the point is it's a bit long for a headline).

 

Livingstone must be irked he couldn't find a transport mode beginning with 'K' to introduce..

Johnson gets way too much milage out of his name and hair.

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pwm_dcc replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 4 years ago
5 likes
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Livingstone must be irked he couldn't find a transport mode beginning with 'K' to introduce..

The river is under-utilised and Sadiq Khanoes has a nice ring to it... 

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ConcordeCX replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 4 years ago
6 likes
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
Tinbob49 wrote:

Yes because Santander cycles is so much better!

 

Somewhat better, certainly.  (Though I suppose the point is it's a bit long for a headline).

 

Livingstone must be irked he couldn't find a transport mode beginning with 'K' to introduce..

Johnson gets way too much milage out of his name and hair.

we could have been riding around on Kenny-farthings

 

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FluffyKittenofT... | 4 years ago
8 likes

Stop referring to them as "Boris bikes"!  Doing that probably doesn't do much to increase the desire to treat them with respect!

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burtthebike replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 4 years ago
5 likes
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Stop referring to them as "Boris bikes"!  Doing that probably doesn't do much to increase the desire to treat them with respect!

Took the words out of my mouth.  I wonder if the vandalism has increased since the father of lies somehow became our PM?

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srchar replied to burtthebike | 4 years ago
1 like
burtthebike wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Stop referring to them as "Boris bikes"!  Doing that probably doesn't do much to increase the desire to treat them with respect!

Took the words out of my mouth.  I wonder if the vandalism has increased since the father of lies somehow became our PM?

How do you even come up with this stuff? Do you think people genuinely exist who take out their anger at our current PM by chucking a bike in the canal?

Avatar
burtthebike replied to srchar | 4 years ago
5 likes
srchar wrote:
burtthebike wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Stop referring to them as "Boris bikes"!  Doing that probably doesn't do much to increase the desire to treat them with respect!

Took the words out of my mouth.  I wonder if the vandalism has increased since the father of lies somehow became our PM?

How do you even come up with this stuff? Do you think people genuinely exist who take out their anger at our current PM by chucking a bike in the canal?

Did you have the soh bypass privately or on the NHS?  I'm guessing private.  And that you voted leave.angel And that you think BoJo, the father of lies, is wonderful.

BoJo is a renowned liar, cheat and hypocrite, with no morals; totally unsuited to lead our once great nation, or to run a whelk stall.

Avatar
srchar replied to burtthebike | 4 years ago
2 likes
burtthebike wrote:
srchar wrote:
burtthebike wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Stop referring to them as "Boris bikes"!  Doing that probably doesn't do much to increase the desire to treat them with respect!

Took the words out of my mouth.  I wonder if the vandalism has increased since the father of lies somehow became our PM?

How do you even come up with this stuff? Do you think people genuinely exist who take out their anger at our current PM by chucking a bike in the canal?

Did you have the soh bypass privately or on the NHS?  I'm guessing private.  And that you voted leave.angel And that you think BoJo, the father of lies, is wonderful.

BoJo is a renowned liar, cheat and hypocrite, with no morals; totally unsuited to lead our once great nation, or to run a whelk stall.

NHS - I was supposed to be having my tonsils out but made the mistake of living in mid Staffordshire.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... replied to srchar | 4 years ago
2 likes
srchar wrote:
burtthebike wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Stop referring to them as "Boris bikes"!  Doing that probably doesn't do much to increase the desire to treat them with respect!

Took the words out of my mouth.  I wonder if the vandalism has increased since the father of lies somehow became our PM?

How do you even come up with this stuff? Do you think people genuinely exist who take out their anger at our current PM by chucking a bike in the canal?

 

You seem to be being a bit literal-minded.  For me it's half a joke and half ongoing irritation at (a) the excessive level of credit Johnson still gets for a project that would have happened even if Livingstone had still been mayor, and (b) irritation at how he's somehow managed to get himself referred to in that matey, informal way as if he's everyone's pal.  Even Farage only gets that from his more cultic followers.

 

To be fair, the bike thing is partly just that it aliterates.  Even if Livingstone had been in power when they came in, he had the disadvantage of a name that didn't begin with 'b'.

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