Liverpool set for cycle hire scheme

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Bicing operates the bike hire scheme in Barcelona / Photo: Eric Chan/Flickr

Bicing operates the bike hire scheme in Barcelona / Photo: Eric Chan/Flickr

Liverpool may have the biggest cycle hire scheme in the country outside of London from next summer.

Liverpool City Council is putting forward proposals to launch a cycle hire scheme, and give people an opportunity to use bikes to travel through the city.  From the summer of 2013, Liverpool would have 300 bikes available, rising to over 1,000 over the next 18 months.

The council has been awarded £2.8 million in Local Sustainable Funding from the Department for Transport, through Merseytravel. The fund aims to reduce the number of journeys made by car to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

The bikesharing system was first launched in the Netherlands in the 1960s and has since spread to 165 cities around the world, and is a service in which bicycles are made available for shared use from docking stations at multiple locations.

London launched its bicycle sharing scheme in July 2010, and has a total of 8,000 cycles in 570 stations. In the capital, the price is £1 for 24-hour access, £5 for a week access and £45 for a whole year. The first 30 minutes of use are free, with costs rising sharply after to promote a constant circulation of bicycles.

During the London Olympics, a record of 47,105 cycle hires were made in a single day.

Liverpool City Council plans to use £1.5 million to deliver the cycle hire scheme, which would see 1,000 cycles being made available for hire at 60 stations. The self-service operation would run for 24-hours-a-day, with cyclists paying using their mobile phone or cash card – similar to the system in London.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “This is an exciting project, which would put Liverpool at the forefront of building sustainable transport into everyday city life. With the major increases in the number of people living, working and visiting the city centre, we believe the time is right to introduce a cycle hire scheme, to reduce the reliance on the car and to offer a low carbon, low cost, healthier way to get around Liverpool.”

Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor Tim Moore, added: “Liverpool has a low level of bicycle ownership, but recent figures from our Local Transport Plan show that cycling is on the up in this city – so we know there’s an appetite for it. We hope this scheme will help further widen the appeal and accessibility for cycling for local people.

“If we want to reduce congestion and pollution, we need to find creative ways to limit the growth of car journeys and promote sustainable transport A cycle hire scheme is a great way of doing that.”

The city council is seeking to appoint a cycle hire operator to take the project forward in terms of set-up, marketing and operation. The cycle hire scheme proposals will be considered by the city council cabinet on December 21st.

At present, Blackpool is the largest public bike rental system outside London. It is operated by Hourbike, and has 500 bikes in 60 stations.

About Arild Skjaeveland, JMU Journalism