I am a huge fan of Milton Keynes and feel very proud of our ‘city’ when big companies launch exciting new projects here. So I was very sad to hear on MKFM news today that after only 1 year this project is at risk due to vandalism!
Who does this? Why? Have you seen this happen?
With over half the cycles currently off the road due to heavy vandalism, Santander say that the scheme is at risk.
The future of the Milton Keynes Cycles Scheme is in doubt due to extensive vandalism of over half the bikes. The scheme was introduced in 2016 and designed to provide residents and visitors a simple, quick and affordable way to get around the city. As well as being a major local employer Santander has been working in partnership with scheme operator nextbike to provide the bikes and local social enterprise Cycle Saviours to service the scheme and manage all repairs.
The cycle hire scheme has proved popular in the city, with 98 per cent of locals believing the scheme to be a positive initiative for the area, but due to increasing vandalism towards the bikes, over half of the fleet have had to be taken off the road for repairs. Santander is now reviewing where the docking stations are situated, with the potential to close some of the stations where vandalism is consistently high and increasing security at others. Approximately 20 stations are likely to be closed temporarily due to the number of damaged bikes.
Keith Moor, Chief Marketing Officer at Santander said: “Santander introduced the cycle hire scheme to support the local community of Milton Keynes, as part of our goal to help people and businesses prosper.
“It is a great shame that the scheme, which is regarded highly by the community is being jeopardised by a small number of people seemingly determined to destroy it. We simply don’t understand the mind-set of those who willingly want to ruin an initiative that is there to help people get around, get active, explore and enjoy the many great things in Milton Keynes.
“We don’t want to withdraw the scheme but we’ll have to if this continues. I would appeal to the local community to help keep the cycle scheme alive.”
Julian Scriven, Managing Director of nextbike said: “We accept that in any scheme, there will be a degree of misuse and damage, but this is on another scale entirely. Vandals have used pickaxes, hammers and even angle grinders in their destructive spree. The worrying thing is that vandalism seems to have escalated since the schools broke up for the holidays.
‘If it carries on like this, Milton Keynes won’t have a cycle hire scheme at all, which is really sad for those that value it.”
As a result of the recent rise in vandalism and thefts, nextbike has retrofitted additional GPS tracking and theft alert devices to the Santander MK cycles. These will directly alert the Police if bikes are being interfered with.
The scheme is not designed to generate profit, it is to support the local community. In the last year, the bikes have had over £200,000 worth of damage. Thames Valley Police and MK Council have worked jointly on operations to help identify and catch those responsible, and the council is also working with partners to help prevent future issues.
Police Constable David Smith, based at Milton Keynes Police Station said, “Thames Valley Police has been working closely with our partners in Milton Keynes in relation to preventing and detecting incidents in which bikes have been stolen or damaged. I would ask that all users of the bicycles ensure they are locked in to the bike racks correctly when they return to help to prevent theft.
“I would also encourage people who live and work in Milton Keynes to be vigilant – if you notice people damaging bikes – please report these incidents. This can be done by calling our non-emergency number 101 to allow us to identify offenders and to ensure they face the consequences of their actions.”
MP for Milton Keynes North, Mark Lancaster said “Very disappointed to hear the Santander Cycles MK Scheme is in doubt due to extensive vandalism. Over £200K worth of intentional damage. These are a fantastic asset for our community. Please SHARE this message and let’s encourage people to use the bikes properly and do all we can to keep this scheme going. Would be sad to see it go.”
You can’t return bikes at these stations, but there are signs to advise of your nearest docking location. We hope to have all stations open again soon, so keep checking for updates.
Bradwell Common – community centre
Broughton – Warwick Avenue
Broughton – Watercress Way
Emerson Valley – Clock Tower
Furzton – Blackmore Gate
Furzton – Dulverton Drive
Great Linford – Central St Ledger Drive
Loughton – Paynes Drive North
MK Academy – Rainbow Drive
Neath Hill – Tower Cres
Oldbrook – First School
Oldbrook – Grafton Retail Park
Shenley Church End
Springfield – Ravensbourne Place South
Walnut Tree – Hindhead Knoll