Belfast Telegraph

Council review to decide on the future of Belfast Bikes - should brakes be applied to scheme?

By Allan Preston

Questions have been raised over the future of the Belfast Bikes scheme in some parts of the city.

In March this year official figures showed the highest rental figures for bike docking stations were at Titanic Belfast, with almost 1,200 rentals.

But docking stations at the Girdwood community centre near the Antrim Road and Mater Hospital showed around 10 rentals each in March.

An online notice for the Council's City Growth and Regeneration Committee said a review was now needed before any further expansion of the scheme.

The document read: "The Belfast Bikes scheme is very popular and this has resulted in a number of requests to extend the scheme across the city.

"However, the recent additions to the scheme have demonstrated the need to undertake a strategic review of the scheme before any further developments take place".

The cycling scheme has already been under scrutiny this year, with the council reporting in April that more than a third of the bikes - 210 of the 576 - were out of action due to theft or vandalism, at a cost to ratepayers of £1,800 a month. Jonathan Hobbs, editor of the campaign website, said the latest rental figures showed the scheme was performing well overall but failing in certain areas.

"There is certainly a cycling heartland in Belfast, in the south east of the city, linked to the good Laganside cycle path," he said. "Ballynafeigh (in the Ormeau Road area) has around 8% of people cycling to work instead of using other forms of transport.

"I think looking at areas like that where cycling is already popular would be the more natural way for the scheme to expand."

He said he believed the council remained committed to the "very popular" scheme with Belfast due to get a more dedicated cycle network over the next few years.

"This is only going to grow and I do feel they are taking seriously the problems with the vandalism," he said.

"If they can get a handle on that, the scheme is only going to go from strength to strength."

Asked how the vandalism could be reduced over the next year, he said: "The council have obviously put out a call for people to be more vigilant around stations and locking bikes in properly when they return them.

"But I think it has to be down to the council to make sure there's no flaws with the stations and looking at CCTV just to cover the possibility of easily taking bikes from stations.

"Hopefully that will solve whatever problems they have currently."

Belfast Telegraph


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