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Government funded scheme has not been as successful as hoped but company says it remains optimistic about growth

Merseyrail’s bike hire scheme has not been as popular as hoped, with bikes seeing just one user every six days during the busiest month.

The Bike & Go scheme, run by joint venture Serco-Abellio, was launched in August 2013, and now boasts hundreds of bikes across 19 stations on the Merseyrail network. The scheme mimics successful schemes in the Netherlands.

According to the Liverpool Echo, however, the scheme’s red bikes – distinct from Liverpool’s green Citybikes – have been used just 170 times, or once every five days, at Liverpool Central Station, the busiest station on the network. In April 2015 – the scheme’s busiest month yet – there were just 84 rentals across the 19 stations.

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Kaj Mook, director of Bike & Go, told the Echo: “Bike & Go is about giving people another way to get from the station to their final destination. We started with fairly modest ambitions, and it’s been growing steadily.

“But the take-up has been slower than we anticipated, particularly the number of rentals per user. One of the issues is that our surveys show only 2% of Merseyrail passengers cycle to the station, and cycling appears to be mainly a leisure activity, people on a day out.

“Most experts say people start with leisure cycling before moving onto more practical use - that journey may just take longer than we thought.”

Mook is undeterred, however – he believes UK cycling is continuing to grow and the company has ambitions to make the scheme a national one, where users will be able to hire bikes at different locations using a single account, as they can across Merseyrail stations.

The scheme is being funded by a £1.65m Department for Transport grant until 2017, after which it will need to be sustainable financially. At the moment members sign up online, paying an annual £10 membership fee, with a 24 hour rental costing £3.80.

The bikes are stored at dedicated sheds in stations, and come with wheel and cable locks. Mook says the sheds could be better located and signed to encourage use.  

The company is now targeting students – usually early adopters of such schemes – and businesses who might encourage employees to use them.

11 comments

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monkeytrousers [130 posts] 2 years ago
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It'd be better value to give those that rented the bikes a bike worth say, £500. 

That at would be 3300 more bikes on the road.

I tell you, I'm wasted in my job!

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mikebelluk [21 posts] 2 years ago
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They have the bikes at my local station and I wouldnt be seen dead on one.

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ped [291 posts] 2 years ago
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> our surveys show only 2% of Merseyrail passengers cycle to the station …

I think that's the key. I'm 'ex-of-the-Merseyrail parish' and even as a keen cyclist never considered cycling to the station despite making regular use of the trains. Not entirely sure why, but the stations were always within 15 minutes walk maximum of where I lived or needed to go at the other end: time largely negated once faffing about with locks and kit is taken into account. 

Chances are that I'd be have been travelling from home to college/work as I guess many peoples journeys are. I'm not sure how I'd feel about leaving one of these bikes locked up at work all day, rather than dropped back at a convienient stand à la CityBikes, but maybe overnight rental should be promoted: pick up a bike when you get to your home station, ride home for the night, then back to the station in the morning. 

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Mungecrundle [866 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Nothing like doing some proper market research before pissing someone else's money up the wall.

 

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a.jumper [850 posts] 2 years ago
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Are those the bikes you have to register for online and then also faff around at the ticket office to hire?

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samuri [72 posts] 2 years ago
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No-one wants to ride bikes in Liverpool? What possible reason could there be for this?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-29754046

https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/commuting/article/trav20120105-Cycle-C...

Oh that's right, there's absolutely fuck all infrastructure so it's appallingly dangerous and terrifying. You can ride round the city centre on the TransPennine Trail and you can have a rather short but reasonably pleasant ride along part of the the side of the Mersey but actual commuting? Nah, you're screwed.

 

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Cumisky [29 posts] 2 years ago
8 likes
mikebelluk wrote:

They have the bikes at my local station and I wouldnt be seen dead on one.

 

That comment perfectly illustrates what is wrong with cycling today, and perhaps, why the takeup of the activity is slow with many people giving up after testing the waters, bike snobbery.
These bikes aren't designed to impress your mates, they are designed to get you from A to B relatively easily while carrying a reasonable amount of luggage.

I'm poor, can't hide the fact, and that means I ride very old bikes that cost me next to nothing, my main road bike is a 1979 Dawes Galaxy which averages 60km a day, every day.
When riding it I get the occasional nod from fellow riders, perhaps a good morning as they pass me by, though the nods and greetings tail off the more expensive the ride they are astride.

For the past couple of weeks I have been riding a fully rigid singlespeed mountain bike which is very hard work, particularly to get up Sheephouse lane at Rivington, which is on one of my regular routes, I'm riding this after being blindsided by a bus, destroying the front wheel of my Dawes which I currently can't afford to replace.
Guess what, no matter how often  I give a nod or greet a fellow cyclist, I am completely ignored when riding this, no longer part of the club, and that pisses me off, not because I want recognition, but because the reason behind my sudden invisibility is the bike I'm on.

Do I want a better bike?
Of course I do, and am currently trying to save for a Merlin P7, cheap by many standards, but a whole new level for me.
And when I'm finally aboard my new bike, I will continue to greet fellow cyclists, it isn't what you ride, it's the fact that you are riding!

Apologies for the long rant, but I do have a major bee in my bonnet about bike snobbery at the moment.

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pauldavies83 [16 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Leaving your own bike at the station has been made pretty attractive by Merseyrail, with all the secure parking sheds they have installed. Problem is, these unused red rip-off bikes are stored in the secure parking (not dedicated storage as the article says), taking up half of the space for private bikes at some stations. 

£4 is a bit steep to have to cycle somewhere from the station, when you can get a day bus ticket for the same price and let someone else do the work. And don't get me started on quality infastructure, of which Liverpool has as close to zero as is possible. 

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bornagainst [17 posts] 2 years ago
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Bike & Go is a bit of a disaster, but it's not without cause.

It's completely incompatible with the far larger, wide ranging city bike scheme.
Why would a pedestrian arriving at Central hire a Bike & Go? - Central is located in a heavily pedestrainised area (with debatable shared-use?) and it's simply easier to walk! The roads near central are a log jam of buses and taxis.
The lack of 'stations' means you can only really ride it from the train station and back. So A-A journeys rather than A-B journeys.

It's horrid.

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RedfishUK [159 posts] 2 years ago
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Bike & Go is also available in West Yorkshire, but it is very badly publicised, you really need to search it out.

In Leeds it is run by Evans in the cycle parking facility but is not advertised anywhere in the actual station. Also the Cyclepoint shop doesn’t open until 10am on a Saturday & Sunday

Other Stations that have the bikes – Shipley and Halifax make no effort to publicise them

 

I was quite interested when it first came out and have joined the scheme, but it has been a bit of a damp squib.

 

Northern Rail who are responsible for the bikes are losing the Franchise in Yorkshire, hopefully the bikes will go to someone who can use them. I sure they could form the basis of a better scheme concentrated somewhere else

Avatar
DaveE128 [970 posts] 2 years ago
1 like
Cumisky wrote:
mikebelluk wrote:

They have the bikes at my local station and I wouldnt be seen dead on one.

 

That comment perfectly illustrates what is wrong with cycling today, and perhaps, why the takeup of the activity is slow with many people giving up after testing the waters, bike snobbery.
These bikes aren't designed to impress your mates, they are designed to get you from A to B relatively easily while carrying a reasonable amount of luggage.

I'm poor, can't hide the fact, and that means I ride very old bikes that cost me next to nothing, my main road bike is a 1979 Dawes Galaxy which averages 60km a day, every day.
When riding it I get the occasional nod from fellow riders, perhaps a good morning as they pass me by, though the nods and greetings tail off the more expensive the ride they are astride.

For the past couple of weeks I have been riding a fully rigid singlespeed mountain bike which is very hard work, particularly to get up Sheephouse lane at Rivington, which is on one of my regular routes, I'm riding this after being blindsided by a bus, destroying the front wheel of my Dawes which I currently can't afford to replace.
Guess what, no matter how often  I give a nod or greet a fellow cyclist, I am completely ignored when riding this, no longer part of the club, and that pisses me off, not because I want recognition, but because the reason behind my sudden invisibility is the bike I'm on.

Do I want a better bike?
Of course I do, and am currently trying to save for a Merlin P7, cheap by many standards, but a whole new level for me.
And when I'm finally aboard my new bike, I will continue to greet fellow cyclists, it isn't what you ride, it's the fact that you are riding!

Apologies for the long rant, but I do have a major bee in my bonnet about bike snobbery at the moment.

Hear, hear!

I often wonder whether bike snobs also drive Audis and have the often-accompanying driving behaviour around other cyclists?  3

I try to be friendly to other cyclists, equestrians, (and walkers when off-road) for a number of reasons and am often surprised by the range of reactions.

Being friendly costs you nothing and makes the world a nicer place for everyone, including you!

I'm baffled by the "don't say hello to me, weirdo!" mentality, whether it's based on snobbery, tribalism or just an apparent dislike of humanity!

I understand there are times when people may not reply because they are getting their horse under control/puffing too hard/didn't hear or see you etc, but it's when people pull sour faces etc in response that really baffles me. It's quite amusing in a sad kind of way.