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

- BY KIRSTEN ROBERT­SON Bicycles · Outdoor Hobbies · Hobbies · Aberdeen City Council · Boris Johnson · London · Aberdeen Airport · Santander Cycles

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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