Bee Bike Manchester: Hundreds of bikes waiting repairs after rise in vandalism

The number of bikes available has fallen from around 1,000 to fewer than 400 due to a rise in vandalism

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Hundreds of Bee Bikes are currently waiting for repairs following a recent rise in vandalism. As of last week, there were fewer than 400 bicycles available to rent on the streets of Greater Manchester because of a backlog of repairs.

In April, there were around 1,000 bikes available as part of the cycle hire scheme. More than half of these Bee Bikes are now waiting for repairs.

It comes after a ‘significant rise’ in vandalism over recent weeks. In total, there were 564 bikes in the depot waiting for repairs or maintenance on June 23.

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This does not include the bikes from the cycle hire scheme which have gone missing. Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is yet to disclose this figure.

So far, more than 1m kilometres have been cycled on the Bee Bikes with usage around three times higher than expected in May. There are now 62,563 active users of the scheme which launched in November 2021, according to TfGM.

It follows the withdrawal of Mobikes in 2018 due to vandalism and theft. The bike-sharing scheme left the streets of Manchester after around 15 months.

The latest scheme, which is run by British firm Beryl, has recently expanded to new areas and there are plans for it to be rolled out further afield. However, to increase availability, some bikes will now be reallocated from low usage areas.

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.”

Following a meeting between TfGM, GMP, Beryl, Greater Manchester’s active travel commissioner Dame Sarah Storey and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, several steps have been agreed to increase availability. Beryl will join the TravelSafe Partnership which is made up tackles anti-social behaviour with targeted enforcement planned against those involved in criminal activity.

TfGM and Beryl will also review the penalties for users who misuse the scheme by not returning bikes to designated areas, or who leave them unlocked after use. Users of the scheme are asked to help ensure bikes remain available by returning them to a stand – or leaving them in an area next to a stand if one is not available – and ensuring they are properly locked after use.

Users can report unreturned bikes in confidence to Beryl in the App chat or by contacting [email protected]. For criminal incidents, including theft and vandalism, people can report incidents quickly and discreetly to a live GMP call handler, from your smartphone, using the LiveChat service or by calling 101.

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