The Big Issue forced to halt e-bike rental service following 'relentless vandalism'

The Big Issue has announced it is halting its e-bike rental service in Bristol following "relentless levels of vandalism". 

The public rental scheme launched in Bristol in February with a fleet of around 400.

But already stocks have diminished as a result of vandalism and now only around 200 e-bikes remain on the streets of the city. 

As a result, the service will be paused from this weekend. 

A Big Issue e-bike Credit: The Big Issue

BigIssue eBikes said it had taken "many measures" to try to overcome the issue, including changes to the design of the e-bikes and trying to work with the local authorities, the police and users.

It said approximately 10% of its Bristol fleet is damaged every day meaning the entire fleet is vandalised every two weeks. 

It added that more e-bikes were destroyed in Bristol in one week than in all other places running the scheme across the world combined. 

BigIssue eBike says it is 'not a decision they have taken lightly'. Credit: ITV West Country

The charity said: "It is disappointing that the actions of a minority of people means we are left with no choice but to pause the current scheme.

"This is not a decision we have made lightly." 

Magnus Berggren, the business development director for BigIssue eBikes, said: "No-one told us about the darker side of Bristol. I've learned now that there is a massive problem with crime and drugs.

"So we calculated for a higher level of vandalism, but that prognosis has been totally washed out, with what actually happened here.

"I can't put words on my feelings because we put so much time and effort into it and it's just awful."

BigIssue eBikes was set up as a not-for-profit partnership between Norwegian company ShareBike and the Big Issue to deliver "biking for good".

Bristol was chosen as the first city in the UK to offer the service because of its green credentials and aspirations.

It was hoped it would provide sustainable and affordable electric cycling in the city whilst creating job opportunities and training for long-term unemployed people.

Since the service launched in February 2022, more than 7,000 people registered to use Big Issue e-bikes. 

BigIssue eBikes said: "We would like to thank our regular and many customers for their support and apologise for the inconvenience and disappointment that we know this announcement will cause.

"We sincerely hope that this is a temporary decision and that, with the support of the police and local authorities, we are able to resume and increase the open, public rental service in Bristol."