Liverpool’s city centre cycle hire scheme is going for gold, with a true cycling legend being brought on-board to help drive forward the plans.
Chris Boardman MBE has signed-up as Champion for the scheme, which is set to be the biggest of its kind in the UK, outside London.
The Olympic, triple World Champion, and World Record Holder will help promote the scheme and provide a range of advice on potential sites and sponsorship opportunities. He will also help ensure the bikes which are used strike the right balance between performance and durability.
His appointment is a major boost to the city’s plans to launch the Liverpool City Cycle Hire Scheme this summer. The scheme will give a range of people – from commuters and shoppers, to tourists and students – the opportunity to hop on a bike to travel through the heart of the city.
Chris Boardman said: “I’m delighted to back Liverpool City Council’s efforts to make Liverpool one of the country’s leading cities in promoting healthy transport initiatives that will also help the city be a quieter, safer and even more friendly place to visit.
“I’ll be involved in every stage of the design and implementation of the scheme and I’m looking forward to seeing technology used not only to gain Olympic success but also to improve our every day environment. The bicycle is simply a fantastic way to get around, and I’m delighted it’s at the heart of the council’s transport strategy.”
Born in Hoylake in 1968, Boardman won an individual pursuit gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and broke the world hour record three times, as well as winning three stages and wearing the yellow jersey on three separate occasions at the Tour de France. In 1992, he was awarded an MBE for services to British cycling.
Having excelled at the highest levels of the sport, he remains at the heart of British cycling today and is often cited as being an inspiration to the current generation of successful cyclists. He is passionate about the sport and its positive impact on the environment and the nation.
His nickname is ‘The Professor’, for his meticulous attention to detail in preparation and training, and his technical know-how.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “Chris Boardman is an inspiration to cyclists everywhere. He is a British sporting hero, whose achievements at Olympic and World level will always be remembered.
“I’m delighted we have secured such an elite sportsman as Champion for our cycle hire scheme. His vast knowledge of cycling and his love for the sport will play a big part in us delivering the best scheme we possibly can.
“We’re now looking forward to working closely with Chris to develop our plans. We believe this scheme will help make Liverpool a leader in sustainable transport and will bring huge benefits to thousands of employees, residents and visitors in the heart of our city.”
Liverpool City Council has been awarded £2.8m in Local Sustainable Transport Funding (LSTF) from the Department for Transport (DfT) – administered through Merseytravel. The fund aims to reduce the number of journeys made by car, promote sustainable transport, and reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. It also aims to enhance access to employment and other essential services and improve journey time and reliability.
The city council will use £1.5 million of the funding to deliver the cycle hire scheme, which would see 1,000 cycles being made available for hire, at 60 stations, primarily in the city centre. The ‘self-service’ operation will run 24-hour-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, with cyclists able to pay using their mobile phone or cash card – and even receive the first half-hour for free.
Plans are also being put forward to make a number of electric-assist bikes available for hire, as well as points for charging low-carbon vehicles – further boosting the cycle hire stations’ credentials as green travel facilities.
It is hoped the scheme will help the city centre respond to increases in the number of residents, visitors and employees, and tackle climate change challenges by providing increased sustainable travel options around the city.
Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor Tim Moore, said: “It’s great news that Chris Boardman has signed-up as Champion for our cycle hire scheme. He will bring real expertise to our plans, as well as helping raise the profile of the initiative, locally and nationally.
“We’re really excited about this scheme. We hope to see a future where hundreds more people are using bikes for their trips around the city, driving up health and fitness levels and reducing congestion and pollution. I’m delighted that Chris shares our vision and has made a commitment to work with us to help make it a reality.”
Liverpool’s cycle hire scheme supports the Decade of Health and Wellbeing, launched in 2010, which aims to help people stay healthy and feel good, both physically and mentally.
It is expected that the scheme will quickly expand to become a long term facility for employees, residents and visitors. Following the initial investment, the council hopes the scheme will become financially sustainable after three years.
The city council is now seeking a high quality cycle hire operator to take the project forward in terms of set up, marketing and operation.
As well as the cycle hire scheme, Liverpool will also be using the funding to invest in a number of cycling and signalling infrastructure improvements, and sustainable transport initiatives in different parts of the city.
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.
Picture caption (top image): Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr Tim Moore (left), welcomes Chris Boardman MBE into his new role as Champion of Liverpool’s cycle hire scheme.