Bristol’s shared e-bike operator has been forced to pause its service due to the extent of vandalism to its machines.
Big Issue E-bikes, the name given to a ShareBike-run e-bike service in the city, was launched six months ago, but the company says bikes have been subject to “extensive and relentless levels of vandalism”.
According to the operator, the starting fleet of 400 bikes has been reduced to just 200, with around 10% of those being damaged each day.
Norwegian micromobility provider ShareBike has decided to indefinitely pause the service in Bristol from 20th-21st August, instead looking at exploring a B2B business model, offering long-term rentals to business.
A statement from the Big Issue E-bike team, sent to customers on Thursday, 18th August, said: “Since we launched the service six months ago, we have experienced extensive and relentless levels of vandalism to our e-bikes. We have taken many measures to try to overcome this issue, including making changes to the design of the e-bikes and trying to work with the local authorities, the police and our subscriber community.
“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the vandalism has not reduced. Having begun with a fleet of over 400, we currently have around 200 e-bikes on the street and approximately 10% of these are damaged every day. In practice, this means that our entire fleet is vandalised every two weeks. We have more e-bikes destroyed in Bristol in one week than in all our facilities combined anywhere else in the world.
“This means that we are left with no choice at this time but to pause the current open, public rental e-bike service. This will take effect from this coming weekend (20/21 August).
“This is not a decision we have made lightly, and it is disappointing that the actions of a minority of people have put us in this position. Big Issue E-bikes was set up as a not-for-profit partnership between Norwegian micro mobility experts ShareBike and the Big Issue to deliver ‘biking for good’ in Bristol – providing sustainable and affordable electric cycling in the city whilst creating job opportunities and training for long-term unemployed people. Bristol was chosen as the first city in the UK to offer the service because of its green credentials and aspirations.”
Bristol was an early adopter of shared transport schemes, previously trialling mechanical YoBike rentals.
The city is also home to one of Voi’s Government-backed e-scooter rental trials.