They haven’t finally ruled out the prospect of having a London-style street bike hire scheme but a committee was told that a series of smaller projects may have a bigger impact on encouraging cycling.
“Some councils have stopped doing them because they are not financially viable,” said Chris Pettifer, Bedford Council’s chief officer for transport. “If you look at the business case for them, I do not think we could offer a scheme of that kind of scale.”
Mr Pettifer told the climate change committee that he had looked at councils like Watford and Norwich that had spent £700,000-£800,000 on bikes. People would pay around 5p a minute to hire, with their location electronically tracked.
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The London street bike hire scheme was named Boris bikes after the then mayor, and now Prime Minster, Boris Johnson.
“This does not seem to be stacking up from a Bedford point of view,” Mr Pettifer added. The committee is considering what to do about encouraging cycling because it is a way of cutting carbon dioxide pollution, which scientists say is a cause of climate change.
The kind of schemes Mr Pettifer is looking at include free bike mechanics under a scheme called “Dr Bike”, and working with the college, university, and the hospital on encouraging cycling.
Cllr Doug McMurdo (Ind, Sharnbook) said he thought the issue was road safety, and people could be encouraged to ride if the roads were safer.
Cllr Lucy Bywater (Green, Castle) agreed, saying “it’s a confidence thing”. She added that the council could also do more to promote cycling, and perhaps invest in a smaller number of electric bikes instead.
Mayor Dave Hodgson (Lib Dem), who was chairing the meeting, said he is talking to other organisations in the town to get them involved in encouraging cycling.