Boardman helps get city cycle-ready

Chris Boardman at Alsop
Chris Boardman takes part in a virtual cycle ride at Alsop High School.

Olympic hero Chris Boardman MBE has been in Liverpool on a fact-finding mission, as he helps the city gear up for the launch of its cycle hire scheme.

The cycling legend was in the city on Wednesday 13 March, to learn more about how the city is becoming ‘cycle ready’, ahead of the launch of the city’s cycle hire scheme later this year – the biggest of its kind in the UK, outside London. It’s part of his role as Champion for the Liverpool City Cycle Hire Scheme.

During his visit, Chris promoted the scheme, developed ideas and held discussions, including:

• Joining pupils at Alsop High School to take part in a virtual cycle ride through one of the city’s 20mph zones, with a video screen displaying a simulation of a real route to Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter. He also talked to staff from sustainable transport organisation Sustrans about their after school cycling clubs, which are helping create the next generation of ‘cycle-ready’ young people, encouraging them to cycle to work, training, further education and leisure.

• Finding out more about the city’s 20 Effect campaign, which is doubling the number of residential roads in the city with 20mph restrictions, over the next three years. It aims to reduce the number of road traffic collisions in Liverpool by at least 54 every year.

• Holding talks with the city’s three universities about them helping to kick-start the cycle hire scheme and promote it to thousands of students.

• Meeting city tourism managers – including representatives from the city’s hotels and attractions – about the opportunities of the cycle hire scheme, how it will boost tourism and how they can get involved.

Chris said: “Liverpool’s vision to set up the biggest cycle hire scheme in the country, outside London, is an ambitious one, so it’s important that the infrastructure is in place and cyclists can feel safe in the city.

“The plans to introduce 20mph speed limits on an additional 300 miles of roads, as well as investment in new cycle lanes, free guided bike rides and after school cycle clubs mean there’s never been a better time to get on your bike.

“It was great to meet with a range of people to share my excitement about the cycle hire scheme and get them involved. Ultimately, the challenge is to encourage as many people as possible to get on their bikes, so we can make Liverpool’s scheme a massive success.”

Cabinet Member for Transport and Climate Change, Councillor Tim Moore, said: “Having Chris on-board for our cycle hire scheme is a real coup for our city. He is an Olympic legend who will inspire many more people to take up cycling and it’s great that he has taken such an interest in working with us on our scheme.

“Chris has been keen to find out more about how we are improving road safety in Liverpool and investing in our cycling infrastructure, so we were delighted to be able to show him some of the work we’ve been doing. And it’s great news that he’s seeking support for the cycle hire scheme from our universities and tourist attractions.”

It is expected that the Liverpool City Cycle Hire Scheme will be launched with 300 bikes in the city centre in the summer of 2013 and then expanded over the next 18 months to a total of 1,000 bikes. Stations will be located in the city centre, before being extended to outlying suburbs.

The city council has now begun a search for a high quality cycle hire operator to take the project forward in terms of set up, marketing and operation.

Image: Chris Boardman takes part in a virtual cycle ride at Alsop High School.