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Nextbike resumes Cardiff cycle hire following "staggering" vandalism and thefts

The South Wales cycle hire scheme was suspended for two months after more than 550 bikes were stolen or vandalised beyond repair

Bike hire provider Nextbike has resumed service after a two-month suspension due to the "staggering" scale of vandalism, theft and threats to staff.

Krysia Solheim, Nextbike's UK managing director, revealed that 260 bikes were scrapped due to vandalism, and a further 300 stolen, with just under half of those taken since August.

However, now the rental bikes in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan are back, with 400 bikes initially available, rising to 900 over the next two months.

An additional 11 new e-bike stations are also to be installed as Nextbike says it is working with the police and local groups including Cardiff Youth Services to "connect with young people" and "encourage them to value cycling".

> Vandalism and theft force suspension of cycle hire schemes in South Wales

In November, the scheme was temporarily pulled out of South Wales while damaged bikes were repaired.

The company employs 17 people in the Welsh capital and also hired a private investigation firm to help deal with the escalating vandalism, theft and threats against staff.

One incident included an employee being urinated on, while another was threatened with a shovel as they tried to recover a bike.

Nextbike's service was launched in Cardiff in 2018 and has seen 1.2 million journeys made by 136,000 customers. However its future seemed in doubt as the instances of vandalism became more extreme, with some dumped in rivers and others set on fire.

> Wales' first e-bike share scheme launched in Penarth

Managing director Solheim called the levels of vandalism "staggering".

"The amount of vandalism and theft that we have seen is simply staggering and not something we’ve experienced to the same extent anywhere else in the UK," she explained. "Our teams simply cannot keep up with the level of damage and theft being carried out.

"We are temporarily removing bikes while we repair those that can be repaired and investigate what safeguards are in place around our bike stations – for example CCTV and street lighting – and how this can be improved.

"We will be readjusting the network to move stations to safer areas where needed. We will also be providing our staff with body cameras for their own protection.

"It’s a very small minority causing most of the damage. We’ve identified the groups responsible and are working with the police and local authorities to engage with them to deter such behaviour in the future.

"The private investigation firm we recently tasked with monitoring our bike docks in the Cardiff area, successfully recovered 16 lost/stolen bikes over a two-day period. They were shocked by the behaviours they witnessed.

"While it points to a wider social issue, we cannot let this small minority ruin it for the tens of thousands of loyal OVO Bike customers we have in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan."

Dan joined 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, 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.

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