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Bike & Go railway bike hire scheme to be shut down in Scotland, Merseyside and East Anglia

Each bike in Scotland was being used around once a month

The Bike & Go bike hire scheme which operates from a number of Abellio stations is to be closed down at the end of September because it is "not self-sufficient". The Scotsman reports that bikes outside ScotRail stations are being rented on average once a month.

The Bike & Go scheme suffered a rather wobbly launch in 2015 with the website falsely showing there were “0 bikes currently available” at the first two Scottish locations on the first day.

Take-up was also underwhelming and the scheme currently has only 2,000 members.

The 103 ScotRail cycles were rented an average of 122 times per four-week period over the last year.

The story was similar outside Merseyrail stations. In 2016 we reported that bikes there were seeing just one user every six days during the busiest month of the year.

A Bike & Go spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately, the number of rentals and members since it was introduced in 2014 meant the scheme was not self-sufficient and the decision has been made to close Bike & Go across the UK.

"Current Bike & Go customers will be contacted on 31 August and given a one-month notice period to make alternative travel arrangements and information on refunds.

"Secure cycle cages will remain at stations to be used by cyclists to store their personal bikes as part of an ongoing commitment to reducing carbon emissions across the UK."

A ScotRail spokesman said: “Bike & Go was part of our commitment to cycling provision for customers.

“We have engaged with Transport Scotland other key stakeholders regarding the closure of the scheme and outlined ScotRail’s ongoing commitment to cycle provision at stations.

“This includes ongoing work with commercial cycle hire schemes to locate cycle hire facilities at our stations.”

Ian Maxwell, of Spokes, the Lothian cycle campaign, said: “The scheme was not user-friendly, the bikes were too heavy and it was superseded in Edinburgh by the Just Eat Cycles scheme.

“If there are other hire schemes, I’m not sure ScotRail are the best people to run them. The priority should be more bike parking at stations, and in the right place.”

Jim Densham, campaigns and policy manager for Scotland for Cycling UK, said: “It is disappointing the scheme is being scrapped when other bike share schemes are popping up in our towns and cities.

“We need to find a way for all these different bike rental systems to work together as a national scheme, to make it much easier for people to use any of them as part of their journey.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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crazy-legs | 4 years ago

Pretty much every cycle hire scheme I've ever seen in the UK - honourable exception, Santander Cycles in London - seems designed to make life as difficult as possible for absolutely everyone (inc non-users*).

Sending off for a key, downloading an app, registering, depositing a "credit", geo-fenced zones, unwieldy bikes, poor marketing and communication about the scheme.

Cynically, I'm inclined to think there's some sort of higher power at work where they build this half-arsed crap (and I'm including painted cycle lanes in this), look at it and then go "ah, no-one uses it", we can build more roads and more parking spaces.

Although more realistically, I think it's just half-arsed without the grand plan of ongoing car domination.

*adding in non-users due to the complaints about dockless hire bikes being left abandoned all over random pavements...

handlebarcam | 4 years ago
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Seeing as this was the train companies' excuse for restricting the taking of one's own bicycle on trains, and it has proved to be an utter failure, will they now reverse that policy? And start designing trains with something approaching the capacity and flexibility of guard's vans, instead of one or two awkward spaces they can't fit a seat into because it is next to the disabled toilet, but nevertheless get filled with ordinary bags because everyone has those wheelie ones that are too heavy to lift into the overhead racks. And, in the meantime, tell their revenue protection officers (i.e. like guards but paid half the salary and consequently miserable and prone to arseholery) to lighten up if a train technically departs a couple of minutes before the end of rush hour, but is half empty.

judda6610 | 4 years ago

Looking on the bright side - it'll mean more storage space for 'proper bikes'  21

I'm really not surprised they're not being taken up here on Merseyside; one look is enough to put you off even before you've investigated the system. Sadly, Liverpool's 'CityBike' scheme is not much better in my opinion. I tried once; registered and tried to get a bike out. The screen required I type in two numbers but I could hardly see the numerals for glare and the small size. Apparently it is one the older systems.

Compare that with GIRONA, (where I lived through 2016 and 2017), once you got your card ( 30 euros annually;- compare that with £60 for Liverpool), you just presented it to the card reader at a bike station and that released the bike. Minimal fuss! (except of course you had to check for bent pedal spindles, faulty brakes and things catching). Clunky of course, with just three gears but how wonderful when they installed a new bike station right opposite my block of flats! With docking stations at the train station, library, main places in the city centre and many more, it suited me perfectly!

CygnusX1 | 4 years ago

I looked into using them, the closest location to me being at Altrincham station , but having read through the website on how the process worked decided it was way too much pfaff, so didn't bother.

For hire schemes to work, they need to have a low admin overhead to joining - if committed cyclists are put off, how are casual users ever going to be tempted away from the taxi rank?

London's bike scheme lets you just turn up scan your credit card and ride away. Its low barrier to entry, fixed docking stations (no need to go hunting for a bike with an app like some Pokemon Go player) and local cycling infrastructure that gives casual users a feeling of safety is what makes it work.

ktache | 4 years ago

Cheers AlisonJ, it's always good to hear from real world experiences.

It does make you wonder, with such a excellent service, that it has indeed failed.

AlisonJ | 4 years ago

I tried to use this from Wilmslow Station. You send off for your card, wait for it to come in the post - that's fine, no problem planning ahead. First time of using it, I got off my train and went to the ticket office to find out how to get a key to one of the bicycles. The keys were available from the station supervisor's office. I got there to find the office empty, waited to see if someone arrived. When they did, the system for issuing the key was not 100% functioning and the supervisor apologised for the system. He then couldn't find any of the leaflets explaining the working of the bike, which is fine, I've ridden a bicycle before, and had looked at the clips on their website so felt confident I could ride it. You get a key and walk outside the station to get the bike. Because I didn't know the system I hadn't gone out before hand to select the least rusty.

It took me 15 minutes from getting off the train to getting on the bike. 

The bike was unbelievably heavy and in the centre of the station taxi rank. I walked it to the exit rather than try to ride a bike I was unused to amongst the traffic. The brakes were shocking. I struggled to lock it when I got to work as the mechanism was not instinctive and ended up phoning their office to seek help. I'd been hoping it would be a scheme which would open up a train and cycle commute option for me rather than take the folding bike on the over crowded commuter train. I've hired bikes in many cities. This was one of the worst. I'm not surprised they were not getting custom. 

brooksby | 4 years ago

Well, presumably that's not down to helmet compulsion...?

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