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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 is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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yupiteru | 2 years ago

Many of them end up on the back of scrap lorries just like anything else with metal in it that is not locked down in the area.

There are a staggering number of these scrap metal merchants on the streets of south Wales, with very few having a license as required by law.  Just chancers who are topping up their Universal Credit.

They are a fecking menace quite frankly, you cant even leave your lawn mower in the garden and go for pee or leave your kids bikes out or they will be gone.

Muddy Ford | 2 years ago

Are there any competing bike hire companies in Cardiff that have lost business to Nextbike? Or taxi firms perhaps?

fwhite181 replied to Muddy Ford | 2 years ago

As a local, taxi firms probably yes (I certainly swapped bus/taxi rides for NextBikes).

But the primary issue seems to be theft. The bikes seem to be fairly easy to steal and the police do nothing. The frames are immediately recognisable at quite a  distance (the leaf-shape fender over the rear wheel is part of the frame) and any bike that shape which has had the electric panel (with the GPS tracker and lock mechanism) removed has to have been stolen so the rider is at very minimum guilty of possession of stolen goods. But I've seen four of these ridden past two PCSOs who did nothing even when the riders stopped to pop into the shop, propping their clearly stolen bikes up outside. Without enforcement against vandals and thieves I suspect it'll go the same way as YoBike in Bristol where the company will geographically restrict the stations/bikes using punitive fines to restrict usage in the areas where vandalism and theft are worst. 

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