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Brighton & Hove's hills prove a barrier to bike-share scheme - but Worthing may get one

Councillor in Brighton & Hove says money could be better spent elsewhere, such as 20mph zone introduced today

Plans to introduce a cycle-hire scheme in Brighton & Hove have been shelved partly due to the city’s hills, reports the Argus. Questions have also been raised about the economic sense of such a scheme, with a senior councillor saying that investment in measures such as 20mph zones, implemented today, make more sense. However, a bike-share scheme is under consideration in nearby Worthing.

The newspaper says that Councillor Ian Davey, chairman of Brighton & Hove City Council’s transport committee, believes the city’s topography would lead to people riding bikes to travel downhill, but not for the return journey.

That would mean extra costs being incurred as a result of council staff having to collect bikes and return them to more frequently used docking stations.

He also queried the economic sense of introducing such an initiative, saying: “These schemes are not cheap to run.

“Our emphasis has been on making Brighton and Hove a city safe for cycling and creating the right environment for more people to use a bike.

“Schemes such as these come forward but we already have shops in the city which hire bikes.”

Last month, it was revealed that in Nottingham, an average of less than one bicycle a day had been hired since a bike-share scheme was introduced there in September last year.

Blackpool’s cycle hire scheme is also reported to be under threat as a result of lower than predicted usage levels and the impact of cuts on council funding.

Councillor Davey also said that investment in initiatives such as implementation of 20mph  zones was a better use of resources, which he believes create “the right conditions for many people to cycle.”

A 20mph zone has been introduced today running from Sackville Road, Hove, to Freshfield Road, Brighton, covering most roads in central Brighton & Hove.

There are plans for the speed limit will be rolled out to other parts of the city within the next three or four years at a total cost of £1.5 million.

The Argus added that nearby Worthing is, however, considering introducing a cycle hire scheme.

Paul Yallop, leader of Worthing Council, believes a scheme would work there since the town is “very flat,” and is keen to explore the idea, although he said it would need to be supported by corporate sponsorship.

“The high street and the town centres need to reinvent themselves with what they’ve been through over the past few years,” he explained.

“Perhaps this is another idea where we can make Worthing a more vibrant place. “There could be a lot of people that would like to take advantage of a scheme like this.”

The potential problem outlined by Councillor Davey regarding Brighton’s hills providing an obstacle to introducing a cycle hire scheme is similar to one that  came to light in Paris after the Vélib’ cycle hire scheme was introduced in the French capital 2007.

Operators of that scheme discovered after it was introduced that commuters were hiring bikes in areas such as Montmartre to ride to work in the morning, then returning by bus or Metro in the evening.

As a result, operators have to load bikes onto trucks and take them back uphill to restock empty docking stations, and more recently a discount has been introduced for hiring bikes at some docking stations that are under-used.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has previously ruled out expansion of the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme into hilly areas of the capital, which would include locations such as Hampstead and Highgate.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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