Liverpool City Council have said they plan to launch a city wide public bike hire scheme in summer 2013.
LCC say they plan for 1,000 bikes to be available at 60 hire points, and claim it will be the biggest cycle hire scheme outside of London, which currently uses about 8,000 bikes.
It is to be funded using £1.5 million awarded to the city from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, made available from central government.
The bike hire scheme will be administered by Merseytravel with the aims of reducing the number of journeys made by car, promoting sustainable transport and reducing congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. It also hopes to enhance access to employment and other essential services and improve journey times and reliability.
Naturally, the scheme intends to focus on the city centre, with the bikes being available on a 24-hour self service basis and payment being taken via mobile phone or cashcard. No details on the price structure are available yet, except that the first half hour of hire will be free.
The initial stage would see 300 bikes in the city centre in the summer of 2013. expanded over the next 18 months to a total of 1,000 bikes with hire points being spread out into the suburbs. Electric assist bikes and points for charging low-carbon vehicles are also said to be part of the plan.
There still appear to be a few hurdles to jump through; the proposals will need to be passed by the mayoral cabinet on Friday 21 December, and the council will then need to appoint a main contractor to deliver the scheme.
The city council’s cabinet member for transport, councillor Tim Moore, said: "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 of cycling for local people."
The council's own figures show that in the 2011/12 cycle monitoring report there was a 20 percent annual increase in the number of journeys made by bicycle in Liverpool over the past year.
Car ownership in Liverpool stands at 52 percent of households compared to the England and Wales average of 73 percent. City officials believe this makes cycle hire a viable and convenient additional mode of transport for the city.
LCC said, "It is expected that the cycle hire scheme will quickly expand to become a long term facility for employees, residents and visitors. Following the initial investment, the council hopes the scheme will become financially sustainable after three years."