Bike share operator 'nextbike' has revealed its popular bikes scheme has returned to the streets of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.
Bicycles were reintroduced in the capital city on Thursday, January 13th after a two-month break due to vandalism, thefts and threats to staff.
The company launched in Cardiff in 2018 with bikes introduced to the Vale of Glamorgan two years later.
But since its introduction, over 300 bikes were stolen - with 130 of those taken between August and November 2021.
A further 260 bikes had to be scrapped due to damage caused by vandalism ranging from being set on fire or dumped in rivers.
Incidents of theft and vandalism accounted for over half of nextbike's Cardiff fleet of bikes, which stood at 1,030.
The scheme was suspended in Cardiff and the Vale in November 2021 in order for the company to repair its fleet and bring in additional bikes ahead of the relaunch this week.
Since then, nextbike has been working behind the scenes to get the scheme back up and running, including playing a part in the formation of the new Cardiff Cycle Crime Reduction Partnership.
The schemes will initially launch with 400 bikes with a focus on the highest usage stations, with more bikes being added over the next two months.
Krysia Solheim, nextbike UK Managing Director, said: "It's a relief to be back on the streets of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. We know our customers have missed having access to the OVO Bikes schemes.
"Bike share is a fantastic, affordable and healthy way to move around our towns and cities - not to mention the fact that it's one of the best ways of reducing harmful transport emissions.
"Initially, we will be launching with a smaller fleet but it won't stop there. We'll keep increasing bikes throughout the next few months to ensure we're at full strength in time for spring."
The Managing Director said the company has introduced a number of initiatives to try and prevent a repeat of the problems they faced last year. They include giving body cameras to staff, increasing staff numbers by nearly 25% and installing new e-bike stations to increase the number of locations that customers can return their e-bikes.
She added: "A number of standard stations that have seen high levels of vandalism and low usage will be relocated and those locations will remain under review for the future.
"Our IT team has introduced new features in the app to increase information to customers and for reporting stranded bikes. We will be increasing fines for bikes returned outside of stations to further disincentive customers from this behaviour.
"We're working closely with a number of valued partners, including South Wales Police in a Cycle Crime Reduction Partnership to help nip any issue in the bud.
"Now all we need is for the local community to get behind us by using the scheme correctly, returning bikes to official stations to make it harder for thieves and vandals to damage or steal them. We're also encouraging people to report any problems they see immediately to the police, so those people who break the law can be held to account."
Inspector Darren Grady, from South Wales Police, said: "Nextbike is an excellent facility which allows residents and visitors to travel around Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan in a convenient and environmentally-friendly manner.
"The minority who steal or vandalise these bikes ruin the facility for others and we are committed to working with nextbike and the local authority to continue clamping down on this mindless behaviour.
"Abuse of nextbike employees, theft and vandalism will not be tolerated and our Neighbourhood Policing Teams are extremely proactive in arresting those responsible.
"We are delighted to see the bikes back on the streets and we appeal to the community to help protect the scheme."