Council awaits £1m funding decision this week based on hopeful reports of benefits

Brighton and Hove is close to gaining approval for a ‘Boris Bike’ style cycle hire scheme with up to 430 bikes.

The scheme, funded to the tune of £1.5m, will have operating costs of around £700,000 per year, and require six full time staff to restock and run the 50 docking stations.

£290,000 of the start-up costs of the scheme could be provided by Brighton and Hove Council, with proposed funding of £1.16m from the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

An independent assessment of the scheme said: “The promoting authority (Brighton and Hove City Council) claims that the scheme would have a benefit to cost ratio (BCR) of 4.99 to 1.

“If confirmed, this would mean that the scheme was very high value for money as defined by the Department for Transport,” Brighton and Hove News reported.

However the report does not that the estimates are very high, given that the the outturn BCR for the London Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme is 0.7: 1, which would be classified as ‘poor’ by the Department for Transport.

This casts doubt on the claimed BCR of 4.99: 1 for the Brighton bike share scheme.

It continues: “The promoting authority disputes this assessment, stating that the assessor has placed too much emphasis on the London scheme.

“They contend that a number of unfavourable outcomes would be needed for a poor BCR, eg, low or no sponsorship, increased costs, lower than expected usage.”

We have been reporting on the proposed scheme since 2011 at road.cc, since the council first conducted a feasibility study on the possibility of implementing one in the South Coast resort.

Green councillor Ian Davey told the BBC at the time that he was glad that plans for a cycle hire scheme were being studied, but added “whether they're looking at it seriously or not is the big question. There's a real danger of it not being done properly."

Paul Topham, owner of bike repair and maintenance business South Coast Bikes, told the BBC: "It's just to try and distract from spending a million pounds ripping up the cycling infrastructure," referring to plans to remove a segregated bike lane in Hove.

A council spokesman maintained that there was substance to the plans, however, saying: "We're always trying to encourage visitors to see as much of Brighton and Hove as possible whilst they are in the city.

"So having a quick, healthy and non-polluting way to explore all the city's sights would help people get more from their stay, whether they are here on a business or leisure visit."

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.