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£450,000 electric bike hire scheme pulls plug after more than two thirds stolen or vandalised

A city's £450,000 electric bike scheme has been abandoned after more than two thirds were stolen or vandalised.

The company running the project in Derby, Hourbike, said it could no longer sustain the cost of repairs, after angle grinders and hammers were used to smash the bikes' digital panels.

The 200 e-bikes were placed at 30 docking locations across the city last June. Riders could book online or via an app and hire them from just 3p a minute. 

Derby's £450,000 electric bike scheme, run by firm Hourbike and funded by Derby City Council, has been abandoned after more than two thirds were stolen or vandalised. Pictured: One of the bikes

They were designed to provide commuters and students with a sustainable, low-cost transport option and more than 7,000 riders travelled roughly 150,000 miles since the launch of the scheme, Derby City Council said.

The bikes were funded by the council and Government money from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership.

The University of Derby put in £100,000 to support the operational costs.

But less than a week after they were installed, they were found abandoned - rather than being returned to their docks. Others were being misused.

A series of vandalism attacks earlier this year then meant two thirds of the 200 bikes were out of action. The scheme was suspended before a decision was taken to stop it for good.

Tim Caswell, owner and managing director of Hourbike - responsible for the day-to-day running of the venture - said: 'It's with great regret that the Derby electric bike-share scheme has to close. 

'Until spring this year, the scheme had been incredibly popular and successful with students, commuters and residents across Derby.

'However, after the recent spate of intensive and aggressive vandalism targeting our e-bikes, Hourbike cannot financially afford to sustain the scheme going forward, the costs of repair are too significant.'

Bikeshare schemes are expanding all across the UK, after one of the first was introduced in London by the then mayor Boris Johnson - and they became known as Boris Bikes

Councillor Matthew Holmes, deputy leader and cabinet member for Regeneration, Planning and Transportation said: 'I'm extremely disappointed that such a successful scheme with high demand has had to close. 

However, Derby City Council is committed to a scheme of this type that encourages more people to cycle and be active, which in turn improves the quality of air in our city and reduces congestion.'

Carl Longworth, director of estates at the University of Derby, said: 'The closure of the e-bikes Derby bike share scheme is very disappointing for the university and the city, and that the targeted spate of vandalism has resulted in this very popular and well used scheme no longer being available for students.

'The university is still keen to partner with the city council on any future projects and initiatives involving increasing sustainable travel and transport options.'

Bikeshare schemes are expanding all across the UK, after one of the first was introduced in London by the then mayor Boris Johnson - and they became known as Boris Bikes. 

The provision of electric bikes as part of these schemes is still relatively new. Exeter was the first all e-bike scheme to be introduced in 2017.

The bikes in Derby cost 3p per minute to rent, with a £1 minimum charge. Four teenagers have been charged in connection with the vandalism.

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