THE VANDALISM AND theft of Belfast city’s bike service is threatening the future of the scheme, Belfast City Council have said.
More than one third of Belfast Bikes are out of action because they’ve been stolen or vandalised.
Much of the damage inflicted on the public bikes is simply mindless vandalism… in one case, a bike was sawn in half.
As of Wednesday, 210 of the 576 bikes in the fleet have either been stolen or have had to be taken out of service due to vandalism, which is costing the scheme almost £1,800 per month (€2,149).
Over the Easter weekend, 19 bikes were stolen, six of which were recovered, and a further eight were vandalised.
In Dublin, 4,950 bikes (not part of the Dublin Bike scheme) were reported stolen in 2014, an increase of 3,077 since 2008, (+162%). The overall number of Dublin Bikes stolen is considered to be relatively low, although official figures have not been released.
Belfast City Council said that “a recent spate of theft and vandalism is jeapordising the future of the scheme” as well as severely impacting the service for users.
The Belfast Bikes scheme has gained 5,000 annual members and over 5,000 casual subscribers since its launch in April 2015.
The PSNI revealed in January that there is an increasing issue of bike theft in general, claiming that bicycle theft is “almost like the new car theft”.
The council and the PSNI are appealing to people to report theft and vandalism to the scheme operators, or bring it to the attention of the police.
Sergeant Pete Cunningham said:
“We would appeal to anyone who witnesses any instances of theft or vandalism to the bikes to report this to police immediately so that we can address the issue and deal with those who are responsible.
Please contact the PSNI by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency. Or, if you would prefer to provide information without giving your details you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
If you’re a scheme user, a quick pull of the bike to make sure it’s properly locked at docking stations is advised to help curb vandalism and theft.