Nextbike Departure Sparks Urgency For Cardiff’s New Bike-Share Plan

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London (Parliament Politic Magazine) – For good, Nextbike has been departing the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff for more than two weeks. Since then, bikers have pushed the council to move fast to put in a successor plan. Over two million Ovo bikes have been rented in the Cardiff and Vale region over the program’s existence, making it the most popular in the UK in terms of patronage. More recently, the program extended to include Ovo bikes.

Just one-third of the fleet is still usable after 3,000 bikes were stolen or vandalized since the program’s launch in Cardiff and the Vale in 2018 and 2020, respectively. Before Nextbike’s announcement, a local council member described the state of the bike-share program as “frustrating.”

Cllr Stephen Cunnah: About Empty Spaces

“I have seen it myself in Canton and other places where there are often docks completely empty, and if they are not empty, there might be one or two, and there is space for eight, so they appear empty,” said Cllr Stephen Cunnah, who is also Sustrans’s policy and external affairs manager for Wales. The council member also mentioned that occasionally a bike is at the dock, but “it can’t be taken out for whatever reason.

”Every day between Sunday, November 19, and Friday, November 24, a check was conducted, and no less than six stations had no bikes available. Only fifteen times throughout the same period were four or more bikes available for use at a station, according to the inspctions. 

Cllr. Cunnah declared: “I believe there is an issue.” That’s what I’m hearing and seeing, respectively. At the time, it was stated that over 300 bikes had been taken from the sharing system, and 260 of them had to be discarded because of vandalism-related damage.

The program will end in January 2024, but efforts are being made to replace it with a better option in his capacity as a policy advisor for Sustrans, Cllr. Cunnah expressed that he found Nextbike’s decision to leave Cardiff “obviously disappointing.” 

It was well-loved and used,” he continued. It was helpful for those who often commuted to jobs, college, or school. Both visitors and those in need of a one-time excursion found it handy. In light of that, it was upsetting to see certain community members vandalize and disrespect the good things we have. A keen biker and council member said a more contemporary, safe, and updated plan was required.”It will need to be done urgently because of all those who are using it,” Councilwoman Cunnah stated. We wouldn’t want to witness them choose alternative modes of transportation, such as driving a vehicle.

According to council member Dan De’Ath, cabinet member for strategic planning and transportation, the local government is hopeful about finding a new partner. He added that they must find the latest technology to “make it harder for people intent on vandalizing or stealing bikes to get away with their actions.”A feasibility study is being conducted to determine the best course of action for the councils of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. 

This research will examine programs worldwide, comprehend advancements in technology and security, and evaluate a range of providers and various operating and sponsorship methods. Regarding the council’s pledge to implement a new program, Chris Roberts, chair of Cardiff Cycle City, stated: “I sincerely hope that they would do it as fast as possible because there could be an issue in restarting the scheme if it vanishes for a long time.”One aspect of the plan was to integrate with the metro system. We must have a strategy that enables individuals to walk the final mile of their commute or shopping trip from the railway station to their destination as we enhance public transportation between Cardiff and the Valleys. When the metro expands, and more people arrive in the city via quarter-hourly services from around the Valleys, the combination of public transportation and easily accessible bike rentals will be crucial in generating the much-needed modal shift.

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In the eight months from January 2023 to August 2023, there were 140 reports of bicycle theft, according to police statistics that focused on 71 streets in and around Cardiff’s city center. Mr Roberts stated that a change in mindset would also be crucial to the success of Cardiff’s upcoming bike-share program.”There are other parties involved,” he continued. I believe that bike theft is a significant issue that the police need to address.”Not just Nextbikes are being taken by thieves. They are the owners of motorcycles. Cardiff’s record is dreadful.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.