Liverpool City Council has unveiled plans to set up the UK’s biggest bike share scheme outside London, with 1,000 bikes available at 60 hire stations, mainly in the city centre – and locals are already nicknaming them 'Scou-cycles.'
The proposals, which have the support of major employers in the city, will be debated at a council meeting next Friday 21 December.
Initially, it is intended that 300 bikes will be made available in and around the city centre, rising to 1,000 over the following 18 months with the scheme potentially expanding to outlying areas. The council believes that the scheme will be self-sustaining within three years.
Aimed at commuters, shoppers, tourists and students, the set-up of the scheme will be paid for using £1.5 million of the £2.8 million that Liverpool City Council was awarded earlier this year by the Department for Transport under the Local Sustainable Travel Fund (LSTF). Some of the LSTF money will be spent on improving cycle infrastructure.
Similar to the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme in London, the one planned for Liverpool would work 24/7 and the first half hour would be free for scheme members.
The city also plans to offer electric assist bikes for hire, as well as incorporating charging points for electric vehicles within the hire stations.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, commented: “This is an exciting project, which would put Liverpool at the forefront of building sustainable transport into everyday city life.
“With the major increases in the numbers of people living, working and visiting the city centre, we believe the time is right to introduce a cycle hire scheme, to reduce reliance on the car and to offer a low carbon, low cost, healthier way to get around Liverpool.
“Whether it’s for the last mile of the journey to and from the office, to travel across town to attend meetings, to get to university lectures, or to visit shops and tourist attractions, we think this initiative could bring huge benefits to a wide range of people.”
The city council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor Tim Moore, added: “Liverpool has a low level of bicycle ownership, but recent figures from our Local Transport Plan show that cycling is on the up in this city – so we know there’s an appetite for it. We hope this scheme will help further widen the appeal and accessibility of cycling for local people.
“If we want to reduce congestion and pollution, we need to find creative ways to limit the growth of car journeys and promote sustainable transport. A cycle hire scheme is a great way of doing that. And we hope it will help drive up the health and fitness of many more local people by encouraging them to hop on a bike for all their trips around the city.”
According to Liverpool City Council, the number of journeys made by bike in the city over the past year has increased by 20 per cent.
Car ownership levels are well below the national average – 52 per cent compared to 73 per cent, which the council says makes “cycle hire a viable and convenient additional mode of transport for the city.”
Recent years have seen growing numbers of people make their home in the city centre, which now has 35,000 residents. More than twice that – 75,000 – work in the centre of Liverpool, 51,000 commuting daily, with 37 per cent of those journeys made by train, 21 per cent by bus and 33 per cent by car.
The city also has a student population of 52,000, many of those living or studying close to the centre.