Councillors on TfGM Committee told that money would be better spent on other cycling initiatives

Councillors in Greater Manchester who questioned why it lacks a cycle hire scheme similar to London’s Boris Bikes have been told that money set aside for cycling could be better spent on other initiatives.

Cities including Liverpool and Nottingham have launched their own cycle hire schemes, but a meeting of the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) Committee was told the body has no plans to roll one out, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Councillor Robin Robin Garrido, who represents Salford, had said: “I’m a bit concerned about the bike hire situation. I would have thought there was enough information around now to adapt schemes like those in London and Paris.

“There should be enough information for us to develop a good viable bike hire scheme for cycling around the city area.”

Bike & Go

Another councillor, Craig White, who represents Stockport, raised the issue of why major train stations within Manchester itself lacked cycle hire facilities such as Bike & Go.

The scheme, operated by Merseyrail, has been rolled out elsewhere on the rail network including to stations at Altrincham and Rochdale within Greater Manchester. Membership is £10 a year and bikes can be hired for up to 72 hours for £3.80 a day.

“We should have this at Piccadilly, Victoria and Oxford Road,” said Councillor White [Piccadilly does have Brompton Dock cycle hire facilities – Ed].

“To me, that’s something we really do need for people coming in from outside – somewhere they can pick a bike up. I feel that would be a real benefit to central Manchester.”

Not a priority

TfGM’s transport strategy director, Dave Newton, said it had studied cycle hire schemes but it was not a priority in the body’s cycling strategy, which last year secured £20 million in Cycle City Ambition funding from the Department for Transport.

He said: “We know that the operational costs of introducing and maintaining this could be very high, and therefore could take funding away from other initiatives that help to develop cycling across a wider area and benefit a larger number of people.

“However, we are very open to working with partner organisations to consider how a more self-financing scheme might work in Greater Manchester,” he added.

Unsuccessful schemes

Where councils have launched schemes, they have not always met with success. In June last year, it emerged that bikes belonging to the CityCard Cycles scheme in Nottingham, launched the previous October, had been used on average less than once a day.

A Nottingham City Council official said at the time that it intended to grow the scheme gradually “over a couple of years,” and the Nottingham Post reported last month that the council has been holding roadshows at park and ride sites to promote it.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.