AN on-street cycle-hire scheme in Edinburgh is to be scrapped after three years following issues with vandalism and thefts.

Just East Cycles bikes are available to hire and ride from various points across Edinburgh, and were introduced in 2018 with the hope that rentals and sponsorships would raise revenue for the city.

Contractor Serco runs the scheme, but in May councillors on the finance committee heard the company was not willing to keep the contract going citing financial risks.

Since then the firm and the council have failed to come to an agreement, and the council is exploring different options to replace the on-street bike hire scheme.

READ MORE: Forth Bike introduces £100 per bike deposit fee due to vandalism issues

Council leader Adam McVey said he was “disappointed” that the contractor has pulled out.

“The council recognises that the bike hire scheme has helped more people get access to bikes, enjoying the benefits of fast, reliable, healthier journeys around town,” he added

“The withdrawal of Serco will come as a frustrating shock to many regular users of the bike hire scheme.

“It sends absolutely the wrong message at a time when so many of us are deeply concerned about the climate emergency and what we can each do to combat the effects of human activity.

“Choosing to travel by bike is one of the easiest changes many of us can take.

“The council is now working on a replacement bike hire scheme for the capital.

“We are actively pursuing options to ensure that a replacement scheme is in place as quickly as possible.”

Sam Jones, micromobility director at Serco, said the firm is "disappointed" by the outcome of talks.

"We have explored every route possible to find extension options beyond our original three-year contract which expires on 17 September 2021. Those efforts continued through to last week when the council advised us that they were not able to extend the current contract.

“Serco has been running the scheme since September 2018 under a three-year concession. Despite the scheme making a loss over that time we have not walked away and we have stood by our commitments and continued to make a success of the scheme for the city’s people and visitors," he said.

The service will continue to operate until Spetember 17 at midnight, and customers will existing tickets and passes will be refunded.

“We know how disappointing this announcement must be for the many regular users of the scheme in the city, but unfortunately due to factors outside of our control, we are not in a position to continue the scheme," Jones added.

“Serco operates successful bike schemes on behalf of authorities in several other localities and values their importance in providing citizens with environmentally responsible travel options. We hope the council will return such an offering to Edinburgh and we will review the council's requirements in any future procurement exercise.”

The news comes after Forth Valley cycling initiative Forth Bike began demanding a £100 deposit following issues with vandalism.