Forth Bike initiative introduces £100 deposit due to vandalism issues
A Forth Valley cycling initiative has introduced a £100-per-bike deposit fee following vandalism issues.
Forth Bike is now reserving a “pre-authorisation hold” when cyclists take out a pass for one of its 16 e-bike stations across the region.
Those behind the project began trialling the move on a temporary basis last Thursday in an effort to combat bike “misuse” – an issue which has blighted the scheme.
The £100 fee applies only to those who take out e-bikes on a daily or monthly basis, not cyclists who have annual memberships.
Forth Bike aims to return the deposits as quickly as possible, although the team says the waiting time can vary depending on the user’s bank.
Suvi Loponen, Forth Bike community outreach and business development officer, said: “We’ve had a lot of issues with vandalism and misuse of the bikes so we decided to take this temporary measure to curb the problem.
“It’s a better way of identifying the user. The measure was put in place so we have time to get more bikes out and more parts.
“We can’t return some of the bikes to the stations because we don’t have enough parts – this is a global cycling issue. They’re taking longer to arrive.
“We’ve had a lot of people sign up for it and a lot were upset about it when we introduced it but we still have new members signing up.
“We haven’t had the same problem with vandalism so if there’s something wrong with a bike out there, it’s not intentional.
“Registration can be done online or by downloading the app. You’d pay the £100 deposit when you take out the membership. There’s still daily, monthly and annual membership.
“Annual membership is £65 and you won’t pay a deposit.
“You don’t have to have it for a month. There are users we know already – they can call us and we’ll refund their deposit immediately and not hold it for a month.
“Most people have got the money back in a couple of hours but for some people it’s been a couple of days.
“There have been a lot of people saying they might have waited ten days or a month and there have been some issues where there was a system update but the system is now running smoothly.”
Earlier this years, Forth Bike confirmed users had clocked up more than 83,000 miles since the scheme launched in 2019.
The programme, which is managed by charity Forth Environment Link, has seen almost 150 e-bikes introduced to the area, with 8000 cyclists having travelled round the globe three times – and some – since its creation.
Collectively, users made more than 8000 journeys across Forth Valley in less than two years.
In May 2020, ebikers travelled a mammoth 14,439 miles, while 100 key workers took advantage of free annual memberships to commute to work.
The number of stations was also boosted earlier this year, when new hire points were opened in Falkirk, Denny, Grangemouth and Bo’ness.