The boss of Cardiff bike share operator nextbike slammed vandals who have gone on a wrecking spree in the city, putting vital bikes out of action which were designed to help frontline NHS and essential workers get to work during the pandemic.
Nextbike had joined forces with Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University to fund a scheme which enabled NHS workers and those offering essential support during the onslaught of coronavirus to use the bikes for free.
Yet mindless vandals have set about destroying large numbers of bikes, crippling the service and costing thousands of pounds.
Nextbike MD Krysia Solheim said, “On the one hand we have frontline NHS workers trying to do their jobs and on the other we have a group of mindless vandals in the city seemingly intent on destruction.
“We have suffered from vandalism in the past but we didn’t think anyone could stoop so low as to actively destroy bikes which are helping keep critical workers safe in these traumatic times. These essential workers are keeping our families and loved ones alive.
“We have experienced a really high take-up of this scheme in Cardiff and we know key workers use it as a safe and effective mode of transport.
“The people of Cardiff have always stood behind our bike share scheme, even when we’ve had issues with technology, and we were delighted to put in place a service which helped our frontline workers. I am appalled.”
Ms Solheim said she would be working with the police and local authorities to examine CCTV footage and bring those to justice and called on members of the public to report any incidence of vandalism immediately.
“Our local service team has also been impacted by the virus and they have put themselves on the frontline to provide this service to the community. We could have shut down the system and furloughed everyone. Instead, we chose to help.”
“The vandalism needs to stop otherwise it will jeopardise the entire scheme for everyone. If you see something suspicious, please immediately report it by calling 101 and direct message us on social media (@nextbikeUK) or email us (firstname.lastname@example.org). And most importantly, remember to use the system correctly and do not return bikes away from stations to help us protect the fleet.
Cardiff bus users will now be able to seamlessly travel around the city thanks to a collaboration with nextbike.
nextbike will feature on the app, which allows its 53,000 monthly users to find out everything they need for travelling around the city by bus, from journey planning to live times and purchasing tickets. The addition of nextbike will give passengers the option to hop off a service and grab an available bike to travel on.
Bosses at nextbike, Cardiff Bus and Passenger, believe this move allows essential workers travelling around the city now – and the passengers of the future post-lockdown – more options to control their journeys.
Users will be able to see on the app how many nextbikes are available at bays near bus routes across the city, and will be able to make an informed decision to adjust their journey.
nextbike MD Krysia Solheim said: “This collaboration allows us to empower Cardiff citizens to make more choices about the way they travel, which is going to be even more important moving forward post-lockdown.
“Cycling is going to be a huge part of transport in the future, and the more options we can give people to cycle thanks to collaborations like this one with Cardiff Bus and Passenger, can only be a good thing.
“During the pandemic, we’ve been monitoring the situation constantly and current evidence shows that the COVID-19 virus doesn’t survive for long in the open air, meaning using a nextbike is considered a reasonably low-risk way of getting around.
Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport at Cardiff City Council, said: “I am appalled that this is happening. We have a number of key workers in the city who rely on nextbikes to get to work safely. We are continuing to work with nextbike and the police to stop this mindless vandalism.”
Nextbike’s frontline worker scheme had been replicated across the UK, with similar rollouts in Glasgow, Stirling and Hillingdon in London, where free memberships have been offered to key workers who are still having to travel to and from work during the pandemic.