Council bosses in Liverpool say they are confident that they will soon find a business partner to manage a city-wide launch of a cycle hire scheme, similar to the Boris bikes in London.
However unlike Barclays in London, there is no major sponsor on board in Liverpool, meaning that big firms have been unwilling to pitch in. Those smaller firms that have shown interest have been told they do not have the financial clout, according to the Liverpool Echo.
The scheme is expected to see around 1000 bikes on the streets, and it seems likely that a consortium of firms will come together to manage the hires.
In 2011, a proposal for a pilot scheme had to be ditched because an operator couldn’t be found.
Councillor Tim Moore said: “We are in discussion with a number of providers, including one with exciting and innovative technologies. Technology has moved on considerably since these sort of schemes were first introduced, for example in London.
“I think we will bring forward a really positive scheme for the city with high-profile partners on side like (former Olympic cycling champion) Chris Boardman.”
A report before the council cabinet for approval yesterday stated that it is likely that the first half an hour’s use would be free, but that “charges will rise quite steeply for longer periods of hire”.
But the council will have to take a long look at what's gone wrong in Nottingham, where less than one bike a day has been taken out on their completely free city bike hire scheme.
We're sure that Chris Boardman, who left his role as head of research and development at British Cycling after London 2012, is to apply his legendary attention to detail to the project to make sure it goes off smoothly.
Boardman, who won the rainbow jersey on the track and road as well as gold in the individual pursuit at Barcelona, has been appointed ‘champion’ for the scheme, which launches this summer, although as yet no operator has been appointed to run it. Boardman will be involved in that process, with his role being much more of a hands-on one than the title perhaps suggests.
"I'm delighted to back Liverpool City Council’s efforts to make Liverpool one of the country’s leading cities in promoting healthy transport initiatives that will also help the city be a quieter, safer and even more friendly place to visit,” said Boardman, former world and Olympic champion in the individual pursuit and Hour record holder.
“I'll be involved in every stage of the design and implementation of the scheme and I'm looking forward to seeing technology used not only to gain Olympic success but also to improve our every day environment.
“The bicycle is simply a fantastic way to get around, and I'm delighted it's at the heart of the council’s transport strategy."
According to Liverpool City Council, the number of journeys made by bike in the city over the past year has increased by 20 per cent.
Car ownership levels are well below the national average – 52 per cent compared to 73 per cent, which the council says makes “cycle hire a viable and convenient additional mode of transport for the city.”
Recent years have seen growing numbers of people make their home in the city centre, which now has 35,000 residents. More than twice that – 75,000 – work in the centre of Liverpool, 51,000 commuting daily, with 37 per cent of those journeys made by train, 21 per cent by bus and 33 per cent by car.
The city also has a student population of 52,000, many of those living or studying close to the centre.