Docking stations to be drastically cut but scheme could be rolled out across region
Liverpool City Council is to take control of its “Joe’s Bikes” scheme with a plan that will see the number of docking stations reduced and the service taken in-house.
Some docking sites for the familiar green and white bikes have already been vandalised and appear to have been abandoned, including those Princes Park Gates and Calderstones Park.
No details have been released on the number of cycles stolen or abandoned, damaged or wrecked, or how much it has been costing council taxpayers in subsidies.
A report on the Citybike scheme is due to be discussed - behind closed doors - at Mayor Anderson's cabinet meeting on Friday August 4. But ahead of the meeting the council has revealed it wants to bring the service under council control as part of a plan which could also see it expanded to neighbouring boroughs, such as Wirral and Sefton.
The cycle rental scheme, says the council, has grown considerably since it was launched in 2014 and it claims there are now around 1,000 bikes available for hire from 140 docking stations across Liverpool.
There has been around 300,000 rentals to date, with usage up significantly year on year, and those using the bikes have cycled a total of 1.4 million miles so far.
The council says the size and scale of the operation means that, in common with other bike hire schemes, it requires an annual subsidy to cover the costs of repairs and maintenance - and data shows that 80 percent of the hires come from just 20 percent of the docking stations.
The cabinet is being asked to reduce the subsidy by bringing the scheme in-house from operator Hourbike – saving £100,000 a year – and look at further offsetting the costs by removing the least popular docking stations, expanding its use to other parts of the city region and seeking sponsorship.
Councillor Steve Munby, cabinet member for highways, said: “Citybike has been a huge success in terms of the number of people using the cycles to get around Liverpool, evidenced by the number of people we see riding around on them, particularly in the city centre.
CITYBIKE IN NUMBERS
• 34 - average rental time in minutes
• 140 - docking stations
• 1,000 – bikes
• 32,000 - active users
• 300,000 – rentals to date
• 1.4 million – miles cycled to date
• 9am and 5pm weekdays / 12 - 4pm weekends – most popular rental times