Bike share schemes may not be at the 2 million mark that China can boast, but we’re seeing more UK towns and cities embrace this easy, cheap and environmentally friendly way of getting around. London started the trend with its ‘Boris Bikes’ but our provinces are catching up fast. Here’s a round up of where in the UK you can hire a bike.
There are various different approaches to bike hire schemes in cities around the world, and they can vary greatly in efficiency, standard of bikes and methods of hiring. On a recent trip to Marseille we were less than impressed with the state of the bikes, not to mention the confusing and unreliable docking stations.
Writing in the Guardian last week, Helen Pridd complained that the fleet of Mobikes, recently supplied in Manchester that are unlocked by a mobile app and can be left anywhere public after use, was failing.
“There are Mobikes in the canal, Mobikes in bins and I’m fed up with with following the app to a residential street where there is clearly a Mobike stashed in someone’s garden.”
But despite complaints like this, there are dozens of companies trying their luck in the UK as they see the success on London’s streets. Santander now supplies 13,000 bikes across the capital.
Analysis of figures in UK cities that have a scheme reveal that bikesharing makes us healthier and makes our cities less car clogged. 13% of users began cycling because of the scheme, while 37% increased the amount they cycled. It also encouraged more people to buy more bikes. The survey also found that 47% of trips taken by bikes were previously done on foot, 22% on buses, and 22% of users were formerly traveling by car.
Cycle schemes also encourage more women to cycle. While only 25% of bicycle commuters are female this rises to 42 % with bike share schemes.
Our home town of Brighton has just launched its own fleet, provided by an American company called Social Bicycles. The model they’ve given us is an attractive celeste green that matches the railings along our famous seafront.
It’s easy to use. You open an account online on which you store credit through your bank card. Each bike has a keypad on the back on which you type in your account number and PIN to release the U lock which is stored in a holster on the side of the bike.
It costs £1 per hour and you can return the bike to either a docking station or to a public bike rack within the area of the scheme. There’s an incentive to take bikes locked outside of a docking station as you will get £1 credit each time you do so. An app shows you where you can find a bike.
We found the system easy and efficient to use. The bikes themselves are lovely to look at and ride really well with a wide choice of gears for our hilly city. So far it looks like Brightonians are more respectful of its fleet than our Mancunian cousins and, while there aren’t any figures publicly available yet, they seem to be very popular.
Here’s a list of the different bike hire schemes across the UK.
London, Milton Keynes
Hour Bike is the biggest provider outside of London and they have bike schemes in:
Blackpool, Oxford, Lincoln, Reading, Liverpool, Nottingham, Sheffield, Norfolk Broads, Southport, Dumfries
Co-Bikes Electric bikes in Exeter
Cambridge, Oxford, London
Brompton Bike Hire 40 docks across 25 locations £2.50 for 24 hours including:
London, Manchester, Bristol, Exeter, Guildford, Oxford
Glasgow, Stirling, Milton Keynes, Bath, Warwick University, Edinburgh, Cardiff