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Belfast council votes to keep 30 minutes free wheeling time on bikes scheme

By Allan Preston

Free wheeling time on the Belfast bikes scheme is to be preserved following a council vote.

The first 30 minutes of the bike scheme are currently free, but a council proposal aimed to cut this in half to save £15,000.

On Friday the council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee voted to stop the cut.

Alliance councillor Michael Long welcomed the decision saying the proposed savings weren’t enough to justify the change.

“The Belfast bikes scheme has been hugely successful, whether improving people’s health, changing the infrastructure of the city or attracting more tourists,” he said.

“I hope today’s vote means that success remains.

“The proposed saving of £15,000 is not a large amount in relation to a budget of £150 million, particularly given the obvious benefits.

“The 30 minutes free is one of the most appealing parts of the scheme, so I am delighted we have now saved that aspect. It is crucial we do not stop there but continue to help the scheme grow and expand, particularly more widely into suburban areas, as well as other locations in the city centre.”

In September the Belfast Telegraph revealed the scheme could cost the council up to £200,000.

Despite attracting 4,000 annual subscribers since the launch in April 2015, the scheme has failed to cover maintenance costs as the council had hoped.

It’s been suspected that savvy cyclists have reduced their costs by carefully planning their journeys not to go over the free 30 minute mark.

The current price is £20 for an annual subscription, £5 for three days. Alternatively they can be rented for 50p an hour, £1.50 for two hours, £2.50 for three hours or £4.50 for four hours.

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