Red faces as glitch puts brakes on new Belfast bike hire scheme
Only last month the long-awaited Coca-Cola Zero Belfast Bikes scheme launched with great fanfare - but last night the whole hire system broke down, leaving the bikes locked and useless in their docking stations, unable to be hired.
Just as the busy Bank Holiday weekend was getting under way, the company which handles the technology behind the scheme took to Twitter to confess that the Coca-Cola Zero Belfast Bikes scheme was out of action.
Councillor Nichola Mallon, who as Lord Mayor launched the scheme in April, was shocked by the news that the bike hire system had keeled over.
"It's very disappointing," she said, "especially as we head into a bank holiday weekend when lots of people would be wanting to use the bikes - perhaps for the first time. This is such an important project for Belfast.
"I will be raising the matter with our senior officers immediately," she said.
Councillor Aileen Graham, who took part in the launch celebrations for the scheme, shared her fellow councillor's disappointment:
"It's been such a successful scheme up to now. I do hope they get whatever technical issues they're having sorted quickly."
Nextbike, the German firm whose technology underpins the bike hire scheme, also provides public cycle hire schemes in Bath, Glasgow and Stirling. All these schemes were out of action last night because of technical issues.
In a statement, the company said: "We are currently having some technical problems with our rental system and hotline. We are truly sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.
"But we look to have you all back on your bikes shortly.
"Enjoy the long weekend."