The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Council revives plan for city bicycle hire scheme

● Two-wheeled transport has risen in popularity over lockdown


Aberdeen City Council has revived its plans to bring “Boris bikes” to the north-east due to a surge of cyclists in lockdown.

Officials have launched a fresh hunt for prospectiv­e firms to roll out a widescale bike hire scheme in the city.

Similar to so-called “Boris bikes” in London, the project has long since been dubbed “Barney Bikes” in relation to the city’s lord provost Barney Crockett.

A total of 32 locations have been suggested for bike stations, including Union Street, Broad Street, Robert Gordon University, Duthie Park and Aberdeen Airport. Both electric and traditiona­l bikes would be on offer.

A new public contract has now been published by the council, after an attempt last October did not return applicants who met “the requiremen­ts necessary”.

The council’s transport spokeswoma­n, Sandra Macdonald, stressed the project would not have any need for council funds, particular­ly crucial given the multi-million-pound black hole the council faces due to the pandemic.

She said: “Lockdown has shown a real appetite for cycling in the city and hopefully there will be a similar appetite from bike hire providers to provide a workable and sustainabl­e scheme for Aberdeen.

“We are offering the supplier the chance to operate across the city, but there has to be no cost to the council.

“The timescale was quite tight last time round and hopefully more companies come forward this time.”

Mrs Macdonald added that the bike hire scheme reflected the council’s wider efforts to encourage active travel and greener modes of transport.

It is estimated the bike hire scheme will cost between £384,000 and £640,000 to set up and between £153,600 and £256,000 each year to run.

Rachel Martin, of the Aberdeen Cycle Forum, gave the new idea a tentative welcome.

She said: “While we’d be happy to see a bike hire scheme in Aberdeen we think the infrastruc­ture needs to come first.

“It’s possible the increase in cycling over the lockdown period has

“We think the infrastruc­ture needs to come first”

the potential to make a bike hire scheme more attractive than it was before but right now, not much has changed from an infrastruc­ture perspectiv­e.

“A successful bike hire scheme needs large numbers of people using it to make it financiall­y viable but most people won’t cycle unless they feel it’s safe to do so.”

In 2018, the council was told to “change gear” and speed up plans for the bike hire scheme as opposition councillor­s grew impatient.

Last night, SNP group leader Alex Nicoll reiterated that and said: “Other cities have managed to introduce and operate cycle hire schemes so it is testament to the administra­tion’s running of the council that they’ve not managed to get this sorted sooner.”

The deadline for tenders is July 29.

 ?? Photograph by Kenny Elrick ?? MOUNT UP: A total of 32 locations have been proposed for bike stations, including Union Street and Duthie Park.
Photograph by Kenny Elrick MOUNT UP: A total of 32 locations have been proposed for bike stations, including Union Street and Duthie Park.

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