The bikes will be available to ride in Greater Manchester from November

When we first wrote about the new bike hire scheme for Greater Manchester, the first question lots of people asked us was – where exactly will the bikes be? The latest innovation in Andy Burnham's integrated travel network is only any good if you are close to a bike.

Now Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has finally revealed where you’ll be to hop on your bike, along with a new zone map.

The first Bee Network Bikes, with our signature Bee emblazoned on the side, are going on the ground later this year

The first 30 Bee Network Bikes will be available from 3 November, docked near the University of Salford. The bikes, however, will be in a “closed trial” meaning only selected users will be able to hire them.

Once the trial is complete, another 250 bikes will be added to the fleet around the University of Salford, Media City and along Oxford Road from 18 November for the general public to use. The fleet of bikes will then expand to Manchester, Salford and Trafford.

Bee Network Bike Hire Zone Map In Greater Manchester
Map of the area where the bike hire scheme will operate

How have the areas for Bee Network bikes been chosen?

The areas have been chosen because of their large resident population, high numbers of visitors, proximity to attractions and a high propensity to cycle amongst groups such as students.

By June 2022, total bike numbers will be ramping up to 1200 pedal bikes and 300 e-bikes, and more than 200 docking stations across the zone. The first cohort of docking stations will be installed from October. 

Docking stations are a crucial element of the new scheme, which TfGM hopes will prevent the outcome of the ill-fated Mobike, which had to withdraw from the city after many bikes were vandalised.

Docking stations will typically be between 300-500m apart, ensuring that up to 198,000 residents are never more than a five-minute walk from a Bee Network Bike. The precise locations of all the docking stations will be confirmed in the coming months.

The Bee Network Bikes, including e-bikes, will be available to hire via a mobile phone app. The bikes are available 24/7 and the app will keep charging the user until the bike is returned to the docking station. The bikes are GPS tracked, accessible and adaptable with automatic lighting.

Andy Burnham Launches New Bike Hire Scheme For Manchester
The snazzy livery of the bee network bikes

How much will the Bee Network bikes cost?

Under the initial proposed pricing structure, pedal bikes will cost 50p to unlock and 5p per minute to use, while e-bikes will cost £1 to unlock and 10p per minute to use. This means that a 20-minute journey on a pedal bike, once unlocked, will cost £1.50, whereas a tourist using the bike for a long afternoon of cycling might end up paying around £15.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said"We've worked hard with our supplier to ensure the GM cycle hire scheme is affordable and accessible for residents to use.

"In fact, we have reduced the tariffs, making our pedal bikes brilliant value when compared to similar schemes in the country.

“The first Bee Network Bikes, with our signature Bee emblazoned on the side, are going on the ground later this year and we are very excited about our residents giving them a try.”

170614 Mobike Mobile China Bike Sharing App Photo 1
Mobikes were not successful in Manchester

Will the bikes be available all over Greater Manchester in future?

Plans for phase two should see the scheme expand further out of the regional centre.

Chris Boardman, Cycling and Walking Commissioner for Greater Manchester, said: “Our ambitious cycle hire scheme is vital to the success of our network as it provides tens of thousands of people in Greater Manchester with an affordable, convenient, non-polluting transport option.

“Current figures show that up to 75% of households in Greater Manchester do not have access to a bicycle and this scheme brings us a step closer to changing that.

“We are determined to build a truly world-leading sustainable transport system in Greater Manchester and I’m pleased that the hire zone in our first phase will reach so many neighbourhoods in the city region.”

The bikes are part of Andy Burnham's determination to overhaul Manchester's public transport network. Plans include extending the Metrolink to Middleton, increasing electric vehicle charging points and accelerating the bus franchising scheme to be complete by 2024 as well as rebranding the network with a black and yellow livery with bee insignia. Mr Burnham believes a fully integrated public transport network is necessary for achieving parity with services in the South of England

The Mayor of Greater Manchester recently addressed the Transport for the North conference in Leeds, saying "Just imagine Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds all with a bus system that was integrated with other public transport and at £1.55 a journey - it would change lives in the North of England.”

Read now: Interview: Andy Burnham - 'Manchester deserves better than it's had out of Westminster'

Read next: Opinion: 'Manchester's inaccessible travel should be a public outrage'

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