New plans for Citybike scheme

Liverpool’s Citybike scheme is to be brought under council control as part of a plan which could also see it expanded to neighbouring boroughs.

The cycle rental scheme has grown considerably since it was launched in 2014 and there are now around 1,000 bikes available for hire from 140 docking stations across Liverpool.

There have 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.

But 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.

Now the Cabinet is being asked to reduce the subsidy by bringing the scheme in-house from operator Hourbike – saving £100k a year – and look at further offsetting them 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.

“We know the scheme brings huge benefits and that people use them to get to work or for leisure and that they are great for tourists to explore our city. It is a much better environmental option than any other method of transport and it is great for people’s health.

“There is a fine balance between making the scheme attractive and affordable to users against the ongoing costs of maintenance of the bikes and the docking stations and that is why, in common with other local authorities that run bike hire schemes, we have had to subsidise the scheme.

“We are committed to keeping it running, but given the financial pressures we are under, we need to look hard at making savings where we can such as by removing docking stations which are not used and other ideas such as expanding it to neighbouring areas. Council borders are artificial, so it is sensible to look at giving people the option of being able to cycle up the coast to Sefton or take the Mersey Ferry across to Wirral and leave the bikes there without needing to worry about bringing them back.”

The report will be considered by the Cabinet on Friday 4 August.

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