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Belfast bike hire scheme pedals to success with 100,000 users

By Linda Stewart

Published 09/10/2015

Belfast DUP councillor Aileen Graham and Ross McGill of Sustrans on the Belfast Bikes
Belfast DUP councillor Aileen Graham and Ross McGill of Sustrans on the Belfast Bikes

Belfast's revolutionary bicycle hire scheme has hit a major landmark - an incredible 100,000 rentals in just six months.

The project, which launched in April, has proved a roaring success - and plans to extend it to include new bike dock locations are now being considered.

On Wednesday, Belfast Bikes announced on Twitter that it was set to hit the 100,000 landmark that day.

The figures dwarf those recorded in Glasgow, where rentals reached 50,000 in nine months.

With three months of the Belfast scheme's launch earlier this year, rentals had reached 1,000 a day.

It is understood that the council is considering installing new bike docking stations at Queen's University and Belfast Met in Titanic Quarter.

Meanwhile, Belfast Health Trust has expressed an interest in installing docking stations at its three main city hospitals - the Royal Victoria, the Mater and the City.

And further stations have been proposed for locations at the lower Shankill, lower Falls and lower Oldpark Road, with funding to be sought from the Department for Social Development's Building Successful Communities scheme.

Last night DUP councillor Brian Kingston paid tribute to the success of the scheme.

"So far it's been a successful scheme and usage levels have been encouraging. We appreciate the support of Coca-Cola Zero," he said. "It's something that every modern city now seems to have and I think they are here to stay in Belfast."

In the first week of operation, the scheme outperformed the start of Glasgow's scheme - and even the famous Boris bikes scheme in London.

By the third week of operation, Belfast's scheme had attracted more than 4,486 individual users. Some of the docking stations even struggled to cope with the high demand, with stations at Mays Meadow, serving Central Station, and Alfred Street/Linenhall Street over-subscribed.

Other areas proposed for docking stations include Crumlin Road Gaol and Holywood Arches, which is where the new Connswater Community Greenway will intersect with the existing Comber Greenway.

There are currently 300 public bikes at 30 bike docking stations in the city centre. The first 30 minutes are free and then there are small incremental charges from as little as 50p for half an hour.

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