Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has outlined plans, including "targeted enforcement", to tackle a "significant rise" in vandalism to the city's Bee Network Cycle Hire Scheme in recent weeks.
Highlighting the extent of the issue five years after dockless bike hire operator Mobike pulled out of the city-region, citing similar anti-social behaviour, 60 per cent of the current fleet of bikes is awaiting repair or maintenance by operator Beryl.
Following up on Friday's comments, TfGM today revealed that 564 bikes were awaiting repair with just 379 currently out on the network, something the body has met with Greater Manchester Police (GMP), Mayor Andy Burnham and Active Travel Commissioner Dame Sarah Storey to discuss, with an early action plan for halting the vandalism outlined.
As part of the steps to increase availability again, TfGM says Beryl has joined the TravelSafe Partnership (TSP) along with GMP, operators and other agencies to take an "enforcement, engagement and education-led approach to tackling crime and antisocial behaviour".
"Targeted enforcement is planned against those involved in criminal activity," today's announcement said. TfGM and Beryl will also "review the penalties given to users who misuse the scheme by not returning bikes to designated areas, or who leave them unlocked after use".
Available bikes will also be reallocated from low-usage areas to those with higher ridership.
The Bee Network cannot continue sustainability without a workable cycle hire scheme pic.twitter.com/Saqgq6T1Dw
— Walk Ride GM (@WalkRideGM) June 22, 2023
In a joint statement, TfGM's Cycling and Walking Director Richard Nickson, GMP's Chief Superintendent Mark Dexter and Beryl's CEO Phil Ellis, said:
"The cycle hire scheme is a key part of the Bee Network – Greater Manchester's vision for a truly integrated 'London-style' network – and we are extremely proud of how it has been received in Greater Manchester, with the vast majority of people using it respectfully and exactly as intended.
"Unfortunately, a small minority have wilfully and maliciously damaged bikes over recent weeks. This has meant there has been fewer than normal available for hire, and we're sorry to anyone who has not been able get one when needed.
"We will not tolerate this type of behaviour and are working closely together to increase availability of bikes and prevent and deter criminality.
"The public can play their part too. You can be our eyes and ears and help us by reporting any misuse of the scheme.
"We want residents and visitors to have a safe and reliable experience and would reassure everybody that we are resolute in our commitment to ensuring its continued success and are taking steps to target those seeking to undermine the scheme."
The vandalism and reports of low availability come as TfGM celebrates ridership passing one million kilometres cycled, adding that usage was three times higher than expected during May. The scheme launched in Novemeber 2021 and has 62,563 active users, up from less than 40,000 at the start of the year.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.