Andy Burnham: do not throw Manchester rental bikes in the canal | Bicycle rental schemes

Andy Burnham has pleaded with Greater Manchester residents not to throw their latest fleet of rental bikes into the canal when the region’s £ 17m rental scheme. opens this month.

Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester and a recent convert to cycling, admitted he was nervous about the launch of Bee Bikes after their predecessors ended up swimming with the fish.

“I just want to say to people: it’s your bikes we own them. So please take care of them,” he said. “Damaging your own things does not make sense.” He insisted he would rather have, that they did not call them “Burnham Bikes,” but stuck to their Sunday name, inspired by Manchester’s bourgeois symbol, the worker bee.

In 2017, Manchester was the first British city to test dockless bike rental when the Chinese company Mobike cycled into the city.

A Mobike next to a canal
A Mobike rescued from the canal in Manchester in 2018. The Chinese company abandoned the scheme that year after hundreds of bikes a month ended up being dumped into waterways. Photo: Canal and River Trust / PA

Within a year, Mobike gave up after hundreds of bikes each month ended up at the bottom of the Manchester Ship Canal and various other waterways. Others were strung up lampposts, left in the Arndale Mall, locked in secure parking lots and stored in sheds. A staggering number had their locks hacked off – and with them their built-in GPS trackers.

Bee Bikes is owned by Greater Manchester, but will be run for the first five years by Beryl, a private company that operates schemes in the West Midlands, Bournemouth, Isle of Wight and beyond. They are part of Burnham’s goal of building Britain’s first CO2-neutral transport urban network by 2031, consisting of bicycles, buses and trams.

By the summer of 2022, 1,500 yellow bikes, including 300 electric models, will be available to the public in parts of Manchester, Salford and Trafford. If successful, the fleet will be expanded to cover the entire Greater Manchester, with more electric bikes in the most hilly suburbs, according to Chris Boardman, the Olympic champion became Greater Manchester Travel Commissioner.

He admitted he was worried ahead of the November 18 launch. “Vandalism is something you have no control over,” he said. But he stressed that Greater Manchester Police (GMP) had been involved in the planning of the scheme, whereas Mobikes was just “dumped on the street” with minimal notice.

In addition to being too easy to squeeze, the Mobikes were also uncomfortable as they only had one gear and were apparently designed for small people. “I’m only 5ft 8 and I still could not get the saddle to go high enough,” Boardman said.

Bee Bikes has three gears and the saddle can be adjusted to suit riders between 4ft 11in and 6ft 5in (149cm to 195cm). It costs 50p to unlock a pedal bike and 5p a minute to cycle, or £ 1 to unlock an e-bike and 10p a minute to ride.

Bicycle rental stations will typically be between 300 meters and 500 meters apart, ensuring that up to 198,000 residents are never more than five minutes walk from a bicycle.

The bikes should be parked in branded docks, otherwise riders will receive fines of £ 5 or £ 10 depending on how far away they leave theirs. Unlike London’s Santander scheme, the quay does not lock the bike in place, but encourages sensible parking.

If the dock is full, users can still leave their bike locked to themselves nearby and not be penalized. “That means you never have to miss your train because there is no space at the station,” Boardman said.

A team of 17 Beryl employees will whiz around the city and redistribute and repair bikes all day and night, he added.

Phil Ellis, CEO of Beryl, insisted he did not hesitate to run for contract. “It might have seemed like Manchester is the Wild West, but that was not true. Vandalism was not a unique problem for the city. It happens everywhere. We were thrilled to be selected to run the scheme,” he said. .

Ultimately, the success of Bee Bikes will not only depend on how many remain ready to ride, but whether mancunians like to ride them. Much of it comes down to safety, said Graeme Sherriff, a researcher in healthy active cities at the University of Salford.

“The cycling environment is generally also a challenge. It must be bikeable if you have a bike rental scheme, ”he said. “At the moment, Greater Manchester is not very bike-friendly, but it’s getting better.”

Boardman is trying to build 1,800 miles of safe hiking and biking trails as part of the Bee Network, but so far only a fraction of the network is complete after quarrels with Greater Manchester’s 10 councils.

Bicycle rental error…

Edinburgh’s Just Eat bike rental scheme lasted three years before its operator, Serco, threw in the towel in September, saying it would not extend the contract due to higher-than-expected vandalism costs. By 2020, about one in four of the scheme’s 550 bicycles would have to be repaired every week.

The CEO of Mobike admitted in a corporate blog that more than 200,000 of its bikes were lost due to theft or vandalism in 2019. It now no longer operates outside China.

Ofo, another Chinese company, abandoned the UK in 2019 following fateful plans in London, Norwich, Sheffield and Oxford.

… And successes

Santander Bikes, aka Boris Bikes, are the grandparents of the bike rental world, launched in 2010 by London’s then mayor. Londoners now have access to more than 750 docking stations and more than 14,000 bicycles.

This year, Leicester launched what the council said would be Britain’s largest docked electric bicycle sharing scheme. Santander Cycles Leicester will eventually make 500 electric bikes available for rent from 50 locations.

Next Bikes, which runs Glasgow’s Ovo bike sharing program, expanded its scheme before Cop26 came to town.

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