Calls have been made to increase the deposit on Aberdeen’s new ebikes to ensure they are returned – and to stop vandals.
Not even a week after the ebike scheme was introduced to the city, several have been damaged or gone missing.
Over the weekend, several were “destroyed” in Torry and another four were vandalised at Duthie Park.
Now Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart is calling for the refundable deposits of £3 on the bikes to be increased to at least £10.
Vandalism has been a big fear ever since the 200 ebikes arrived at 40 locations across the city.
Since they were made available last Wednesday, Aberdeen’s ebike boss has already appealed to the public to help them find any missing bikes.
Mr Stewart, who is minister for mental wellbeing and social care, believes bosses should look at adjusting the charge and learn lessons from other places who have successfully rolled out the scheme.
Early problems not ‘unexpected’
In letters sent to Aberdeen City Council and Big Issue eBikes, Mr Stewart drew on this example as he made the proposal.
He said: “It’s a real shame to see so many reports of the bikes being abused and left strewn across the city, but it’s not unexpected.
“There is no reason to panic though and I think we should look to how other cities, like Inverness, operate their ebike schemes.
“I think it’s fairly clear that we need a higher refundable deposit rate than £3 and we should look to increase the deposit to at least £10 – this would hopefully discourage people from abusing and dumping the bikes.”
Other UK cities have had similar problems when introducing the bikes.
Bristol supplied 400 earlier this year and nearly 200 were lost or damaged within six months. As a result, the scheme has been “paused” and is using private, long-term rentals instead.
Mr Stewart does not want to see such action taken in Aberdeen, and urged bosses to ensure the scheme is not “left to rot”.
He said: “Aberdeen needs to do a lot more to support cycling in the city and new schemes like this have to be made to work, not left to rot, so I hope the council and the operator can work together to do just that.”
Big Issue eBikes have been contacted for a comment.