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Police recover several stolen and vandalised hire bikes within hours of transport safety operation

The action comes just a week after Transport for Greater Manchester announced plans for “targeted enforcement” to tackle significant rise in hire bike vandalism

Greater Manchester Police kicked off Operation Avro today, partnering with popular cycle share scheme Beryl bikes which had been hit by vandalism recently, and has already recovered several of the stolen and vandalised bikes within hours of the operation.

Two weeks ago, we reported that users of Greater Manchester’s Bee Network Cycle Hire Scheme were encountering problems in finding bikes available to ride with as the initiative got targeted by vandals.

Then last week, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) outlined plans, including “targeted enforcement”, to tackle the “significant rise” in vandalism. The body also said that it 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.

> "Targeted enforcement" to tackle significant rise in hire bike vandalism, Transport for Greater Manchester warns

The operator Beryl Bikes revealed that that 564 bikes were awaiting repair with just 379 currently out on the network.

This morning, GMP announced that over the next couple of days, it will be “running Operation Avro across Greater Manchester’s transport network”, working with “key partners like TfGM, Beryl bikes and Metrolink”.

And within just three hours of the operation commencing, GMP posted pictures of five recovered Beryl bikes, one of them sprayed with black paint on the down tube.

“Officers in Salford on #OpAvro have found and seized a number of stolen @BerylBikes which will be repaired and returned for service. We are today working with our partners @OfficialTfGM in tackling crime on our public transport systems,” wrote GMP on Twitter.

Two hours later, Salford Police recovered more bikes, with one image showing one of the bikes curiously tucked away in between washing machines

“Continuing #OpAVRO in Salford, officers have recovered further @BerylBikes which will be repaired and returned into service. We are today working with our partners @OfficialTfGM in tackling misuse of pedal cycles which should be available to all and not stored in private areas,” said the force on Twitter.

Just six years ago, the city-region became the first outside Asia, and the 100th city worldwide, to welcome the Mobike, one of a number of dockless cycle hire firms that expanded quickly around the globe.

However, a year later, Mobike pulled out of Greater Manchester, citing similar instances of anti-social behaviour like thefts and vandalism. In the wake of these things happening once again, it looks like authorities have decided to clamp down.

Active travel campaign group Walk Ride GM, meanwhile, has called for an “urgent review” into the scheme, saying on Twitter that TfGM “cannot continue sustainability without a workable cycle hire scheme.”

> One Mobike incident a day was reported to Manchester police during bike-share firm's time in the city

Beryl Transport for Greater Manchester

The Bee Network’s yellow-and-black branding has become synonymous with Manchester’s cycle-network and has been rolled out more widely to Greater Manchester’s transport, including buses, the first of which were delivered earlier this month, and the cycle hire scheme.

Regarding the issues currently being encountered by the Bee Network Cycle Hire Scheme, TfGM added: “For information Members of the public can report issues or misuse with the scheme quickly and easily through the Beryl app or by email.

“Anyone who does not return or lock a bike will receive a penalty charge. Customers are asked to leave them in a designated area after use to avoid unnecessary costs.

“Incidents or un-returned bikes can be reported to Beryl in App chat or by contacting support [at] beryl.cc and users are encouraged to use what3words when providing location information.”

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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DeelitedManchester | 9 months ago
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I'm afraid that Manchester is packed to the brim with low lives and feral kids with no apparent respect for themselves or their community.  Stealing and vandalising hire bikes is just the tip of the iceberg of the crime that is committed on a daily basis in this so-called great city.

In all honesty, I'm amazed any hire scheme has become available in Manchester after what happened to the Mobikes.

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