'Park anywhere' electric bike hire launched in Milton Keynes

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A Lime, electric bicycle.Image source, Lime
Image caption,
The Lime E bikes are assisted by a motor, making them easier to cycle

What is claimed to be the UK's first dockless electric bike hire service has begun, despite the risk of vandalism.

Lime said its motor-assisted bikes in Milton Keynes would be accessible for people of any age or fitness level.

They can be unlocked for £1, ridden for 15p per minute, then parked anywhere "responsibly" after use.

Santander pedal bikes can already be rented in the town for £1 per 30 minutes, but over half were vandalised and not in use during summer 2017.

The Silicon-Valley-based company already rents out electric bikes in Europe and North America, and said less than 1% had been deliberately damaged or stolen.

They are located and paid for via a free app and feature motors to make cycling easier.

Image source, Mobike
Image caption,
Dockless bikes can be parked anywhere "responsibly" after use, rather than at designated docking stations

Lime claims it is the first such service in the UK. About 100 bikes will be available in the Buckinghamshire town initially, with numbers expected to increase in the first few weeks.

Jaanaki Momaya, general manager for Lime UK, said: "Milton Keynes is a dynamic city at the forefront of transport innovation.

"We could not think of a better place to launch in the UK and we look forward to expanding into other areas shortly."

Milton Keynes has had a pedal bike rental system with 40 docking stations since June 2016, but operator Santander said in summer 2017 the service was at risk after more than £200,000 of "intentional damage" had been caused in its first year.

Image source, South yorkshire police
Image caption,
Police in Sheffield said they would not collect any more vandalised Ofo bikes

Bike rental company Mobike raised its prices in several cities and later pulled out of Manchester after so many bikes were thrown in canals, set on fire or dumped on pavements.

But the company recently announced plans to introduce electric bikes in London.

And in Sheffield, police said they would no longer be collecting Ofo bikes that had been vandalised and dumped.

Media caption,
The electric scooter scheme taking over Paris

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A Lime spokeswoman said the bike's batteries are monitored remotely and can be swapped by the maintenance team when they run low.

It also said the bikes had anti-theft locks, alarms and tracking, and the company was working closely with police to ensure the bikes were used and parked responsibly.

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