'Boris bikes' could hit the streets of Doncaster

Bikes like this could be hired on the streets of Doncaster soon
Bikes like this could be hired on the streets of Doncaster soon
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Pay as you go 'Boris Bikes' could be set to hit the streets of Doncaster later this year.

The German operator Nextbike is in talks with Doncaster Council over running a scheme in the borough, and it could receive council backing next week.

It is part of a series of measures currently in the pipeline too encourage cycling in the borough.

The schemes involve the public registering with the company, and then paying to pick up a bike from an access point in the street, with the amount they pay based on the time they use it.

They can then drop them off in another part of the town, or in the same area.

Cycles used on the same basis in London became known as Boris Bikes, after the former Mayor of London who was in power at the time, and have since been introduced in several towns and cities in the UK.

Martin Maltby, president of the Doncaster Wheelers cycle club and the owner of Don Valley Cycles, believes the move will be a boost to cycling in the town.

He said: "Anything that makes cycling more accessible to various parts of the town for small fee would be more than suitable," he said.

"There is a wide spectrum of places you could take them, with places like the station Cusworth Hall, and Cast Theatre."

He said he thought the introduction of the bikes would also encourage the improvement of the cycle network in the borough.

He added: "It may take some time for it to be successful and to establish itself, because it will take time for people to know they're there. But there are other towns like Doncaster where they have been successful.

"I think prices will have to be worked into the plan."

A Doncaster Council report into the scheme, which is due to go said the council had been approached by Nextbike, a European bike share services firm. Nextbike have installed and manage systems in over 120 cities around the world.

They are currently operating schemes in UK Cities such as Glasgow and Bristol, and through through their European expansion strategy they want to implement a network of bikes and stations across the borough through their own private investment.

It would mean there would be no capital cost for Doncaster, or any on-going costs and subsidies. The report said at the same time it would provide an additional integrated transport system for the town centre and the wider Borough.

The report, by council leisure services business development manager Andrew Maddox and transport planner Kerry Perruzza stated: "There would be a cost to residents to hire the bikes. Nextbike would require exclusivity i.e. being the only company able to hire bikes in Doncaster for a period of 5 years.

"This is an opportunity not normally presented to Doncaster which is an area which does not meet the traditional demographic for this style of service. Other service providers have shown little appetite for Doncaster as it is very unlikely that the revenue income will cover the capital and revenue costs. The agreement is for five years and will be reviewed at the end of the term."

The scheme is one of a number of measures to improve cycling that are due to be outlined to councillors next week.

It outlines almost £3 million worth of cycling schemes for over the next two years.

It includes infrastructure improvements, a planned cycle track at the Dome, cycling training schemes. and £250,000 to pay for the Tour de Yorkshire and the UCI road world race championships. Both are due to be held in Doncaster.

It also reveals proposals over the next year for:

* Improvements to the cycke route from the train station to Civic Square

* A programme of renewal of advanced stop lines and cycle lanes on-road

* Improving accessibility by cycle to the iPort at Rossington.

Doncaster has seen rising levels of cycling in recent years, according the the local authority's annual counts of all vehicles, including cycles, entering Doncaster, It was conducted in March each year. The overall trend since the turn of the century shows an annual increase in cycle usage. Cycle usage declined during the 1990’s but since the turn of the century has grown on average at two to three per cent per year or 57 per cent between 2002 and 2012.

Sport England Active Peoples Survey has identified an above-average percentage of Doncaster residents who cycle at least once per week; at 15.4 per cent. The figures is higher than comparable authorities including Rotherham, Barnsley, Bolton and Wigan.