Bristol bike hire company denies scheme is failing
By Richard Peace | Wednesday, November 25, 2009 10.25am
Critics have claimed Bristol's public bike hire scheme is underused Thomas Guest, Flickr.com
The company behind Bristol's public bike hire scheme has denied press speculation that it is failing, and revealed that it hopes to expand the project.
A report in the Evening Post claimed that the initiative was "struggling to get off the ground". The newspaper pointed out that eight of the 18 bikes deployed at four city centre hubs had "disappeared", a promised rental point at Bristol Temple Meads train station had yet to materialise and only 240 people had subscribed to the scheme.
BikeRadar spoke exclusively to Tim Caswell of Hourbike, the Surrey-based company which runs the scheme. He denied it was in trouble, saying: "Yes, eight of the 18 bikes have been removed – by us, simply to tailor the system to meet the current demand.
"We've met with Bristol City Council's planning department only recently to try to progress installation at Bristol Temple Meads station. The station is a heritage site and accordingly it has been a real challenge to satisfy all parties concerned. We are hopeful we can come up with a solution though.
"It's true only 240 have signed up to the scheme, but it's still a pilot and has only received an injection of £4,000 from Bristol City Council."
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The bike sharing project has been billed as a pilot scheme since its launch in November 2008 on the campuses of the University of the West of England. In July four new hubs appeared in the city centre – in Anchor Square, at the Bristol Royal Infirmary and in Wine Street. Hourbike was also behind the introduction of Blackpool's hire bike scheme earlier this year.
Caswell said: "Throughout Europe successful schemes receive widespread support from local authorities who see it as part of a competitively priced public transport system. We believe Hourbike in Bristol would be a huge success if expanded into a full-blown city-wide scheme, but this is in the hands of the city council."
He added: "There was a widespread perception that Hourbike was part of the multi-million-pound CyclingCity bid and has since been dropped, but this was never the case. Of course, we would love to be included in the CyclingCity project and to receive some of the funds in order to expand the project."
Elsewhere, it has recently been revealed that Paris's huge and very popular Velib bike hire scheme has had to receive support from taxpayers – not part of its original funding plan – due to the high rate of stolen and missing bikes.
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