Forth Valley’s electric bike scheme has been hit by a spate of vandalism, reducing the number of e-bikes available to key workers during the Covid-19 crisis by 25%.

Last month local charity Forth Environment Link announced that it was making its Forth Bike public bike share scheme free to key workers for the duration of lockdown, thanks to funding from Cycling Scotland and support from the scheme’s operator Bewegen. The initiative has proved a popular way for key workers to stay fit while they commute, with users clocking up over 22,000 miles since the beginning of April.

But the charity fear key workers relying on the scheme to get to and from work will be adversely affected if more e-bikes have to be taken off the road for repair and is appealing to the public for help.

Shirley Paterson, Active Travel Manager for Forth Environment Link said: “We’ve seen e-bike use triple since we launched the initiative on the 1st of April and the positive feedback we have received from key workers has been incredible. But we could help even more key workers with a fully operational fleet. At least a quarter of our bikes are currently off the road due to vandalism, reducing the number of bikes available to around 65. We’re appealing to anyone who sees someone vandalising a bike or docking station to report it to the police on 101. If you come across a damaged or abandoned bike, please call our maintenance team at Recyke-a-Bike on 01290 438290.”

Bewegen Program Manager Gabriel Patry Desjardins added: “The Forth Bike team is incredibly proud of the impact the initiative has had over the past 8 weeks with key workers across Forth Valley taking advantage of free annual membership. We’re working hard to protect the fleet and maximise the number of bikes available to key workers, but we need the public’s help to detect and catch those responsible for damaging the bikes. We would also like to remind users that the e-bikes are designed for use on paved roads and should only be used for journeys inside the designated area which is marked on our website and mobile app. It’s also important to make sure the bike is secured with the bike’s cable lock during stops to prevent theft.”