Blackpool’s Hire-a-Bike scheme – started last September with 60 bikes – is due to reach 500 bikes at 72 hubs, during this year with a phased expansion programme over the summer.
Tim Caswell of HourBike, who are running the scheme, spoke to BikeRadar about the expansion: “Everyone agreed that the trial scheme of 60 bikes was pretty successful – in our busier days we had to turn people away. About 70 percent of use was by residents but this year we are going to market to visitors much more strongly through local hotels and the like. We are focusing on getting as many new hire sites available for the school holidays when Blackpool goes from being quite quiet to very busy.”
Whilst current hire sites are mainly on the seafront and so have attracted plenty of leisure users, the new hire locations will cover not only major attractions but also the exits of all main car parks, many tram stops (a new tram upgrade is being installed very shortly), council offices and NHS sites.
Caswell also detailed the changes made to the system as a result of the trial – the telephone bike booking system has been tweaked to make it more user-friendly and several components on the bikes have been changed to make them more resistant to the corrosive power of the sea air, including upgrading from steel to alloy frames.
In Edinburgh, Scotland, things appear rather different. Although not a “dead duck” according to their council, Edinburgh’s planned public bike hire scheme looks set to be scaled down to just a few bikes at one or two locations.
Councillor Iain Whyte who first proposed the idea said: “I would still hope there’s an opportunity to have a much bigger scheme in the future.”
On a more positive note, trials allowing cyclists to take their bikes on the trams are expected to take place, although not until at least a year after the trams come into service (2012 say Edinburgh Trams).
Not that any bike hire scheme is likely to be quick off the mark. The council says a progress update to the transport committee is due in September.
Local cyclists seem still to be getting used to the new tram lines – Edinburgh Trams have had reports of one or two accidents on Princes Street involving bikes.