Scotland’s first cycle hire scheme, launched in Dumfries in September, has seen slow uptake in its first two months of operation, with 47 users making an average of three journeys each. With the scheme costing £155,000 to put in place, that means that each trip to date has cost more than £1,000.
Councillors in the town in southwestern Scotland have acknowledged that the approach of winter means that usage levels are unlikely to improve any time soon, and have pledged to give the scheme a marketing boost next spring to encourage people to use the bikes, which are available free of charge at nine locations.
The initiative, called Dumfries Bike2Go project was launched by Scottish Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson in September.
In all, 142 journeys were made using the bikes in September and October, with 1pm-6pm being the peak period for use, with the most popular hire location being Dock Park. The highest use by an individual member was in excess of 20 journeys.
A council spokesman, quoted on the BBC News website, underlined that the figures to date were a reflection of the scheme being in its infancy and the time of year it was launched in.
"Obviously the recent weather hasn't been conducive to cycling unless the rider is pre-prepared with clothing suitable for cycling in wet weather,” he said.
"We are working to build the number of users and a marketing campaign in the spring will encourage increased use of the bikes,” he added.
The cost per journey should reduce in time as a proportion of the £155,000 start-up cost of the scheme, but compares unfavourably to the £140 million Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme in London, where more than a million journeys have now been made, bringing the current cost per trip there to below £140.
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.