Greater Manchester’s cycle hire scheme is being scaled back after a spate of vandalism took most of the Bee Bikes off the road.

Around 800 of the 1,000 bikes which had been on the network are currently damaged or missing.

Just 160 bikes were available to hire two weeks ago, but transport bosses are hoping this will rise to 500 by the end of August.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 bike stands across the city-region will temporarily close.


A Bee Bike stand by Central Library, Manchester (Picture: LDRS)

A Bee Bike stand by Central Library, Manchester (Picture: LDRS)


Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) says this 40 per cent reduction will increase availability of bikes at the stands which remain open.

They are introducing new locking rules and heavier fines when bikes not returned properly.

It comes nearly five years after Mobikes were removed from the city due to vandalism and theft.

The Chinese company behind the bike-sharing scheme suspended its service after around 15 months on the streets of Manchester.

Earlier this year, a spike in vandalism resulted in a backlog of Bee Bike repairs leaving the 64,350 active users struggling to find bicycles in the city.

The temporarily smaller footprint of the scheme means more Bee Bikes will be available where demand is highest – predominantly in Manchester city centre.

However, it is hoped the suspended docking stations – many of which are in Salford – will reopen and the number of bikes on the network will hit 1,500 by March.


Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and active travel commissioner Dame Sarah Storey (Picture: LDRS)

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and active travel commissioner Dame Sarah Storey (Picture: LDRS)


Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said that scaling back the scheme means transport bosses can "build it back up in a manageable way".

He said: “Some docking stations are being temporarily suspended, but that’s necessary to bring bikes back to the places where they’re most used. So the sites that are being suspended, I think, are having very few rides per day.

“Actually, the scheme has not yet fully landed in those places from a positive use point of view and it’s in those places where some of the negatives is outweighing the benefits. So there’ll be a temporary suspension there.

“But the aim will be to bring the bikes back there. It’s not a case of use it or lose it, it’s a case of just look after it, everybody.

“The more we all look after it the more it will all be there for everyone.”

The Labour mayor said the cost of repairs is being shared by operator Beryl and TfGM, but the bill for the taxpayer is "not significant".

Beryl CEO Phil Ellis said that the company – which runs cycle hire schemes across the country – expected the ‘baseline’ rate of vandalism to be higher in Greater Manchester.

However, he said the scheme has suffered from "quite heavy damage" over a short period of time which has led to "not enough bikes available for people".

Demand for the bikes has also been higher in Greater Manchester compared to other places Beryl operates with rides per bike per day more than double.

The operator is now working closer with Greater Manchester Police which has recently recovered 88 missing Bee Bikes.

It is hoped that new rules requiring bikes to be locked at the front and the back will reduce vandalism and theft.

Fines for failing to returning a bike to a docking station, not locking it properly or taking it outside of the permitted area will also more than double with the maximum fine remaining at £80. In total, 1,458 stands at 154 docking stations will stay open, but 792 stands at 71 stations will shut until at least September.

A further 31 stations with 247 stands will be closed for a longer period of time. Greater Manchester’s active travel commissioner Dame Sarah Storey said demand will continue to be monitored as docking stations start to reopen.

She said: “This is a living recovery process where we try and bring as many of those hubs back on line as quickly as possible as the bike numbers recover.”

The Paralympic gold medallist said that a high proportion of docking stations that will be suspended are in Salford where there is a "successful" e-scooter scheme and where a "significant" number of Bee Bikes have gone missing.