Borough bike-hire scheme to start 'in months'

by Jim Dunton Thu 17 October 2013, 6:05 pm

Reading Borough Council has said its much-anticipated new bike-hire scheme will launch in spring 2014 with an initial network of 29 docking points and 200 bicycles.

The authority announced this week that Surrey-based firm Hourbike had been selected to operate the scheme.

Reading said the main annual membership options would be individual or business, but that occasional use or one-off hire options would be available.

Members will get a free half-hour of cycling at the start of each rental period, meaning that many journeys will be zero cost.

Councillor Tony Page, Reading’s transport lead, said the scheme was an important element of the authority’s overall aim of encouraging more people to consider cycling as a real transport option.

“This first phase of Reading’s cycle hire scheme includes 200 bikes with docking stations located right across Reading, including on the north and south side of the newly redeveloped Reading Station and other key locations like Broad Street, Thames Valley Park, The University of Reading, Green Park, and north of the river into Caversham,” he said.

“If successful we can then look into extending the scheme further in future years.”

Councillor Page added that Hourbike had a wealth of experience with cycle-hire schemes Dumfries, Nottingham, and Lincoln and that the firm had also provided key assistance with the introduction of a network in Moscow.

Hourbike managing director Tim Caswell said automated bike-hire schemes had been successful components of many European city-transport strategies for many years, and that the firm would bring its UK and worldwide experience to ensure the same would be the case for Reading.

“This will be a new and exciting public transport medium for the residents, commuters and visitors to Reading, and we look forward to the spring opening,” he said.

Reading said its contract with Hourbike had provisions for the expansion of the scheme to cover more locations in the borough, and potentially also Wokingham and West Berkshire, depending on public interest and available funding.

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