Liverpool city centre is about to get rolling, under plans to launch the biggest cycle hire scheme in the UK, outside London.
The city council is putting forward proposals to launch the Liverpool City Cycle Hire Scheme from next summer. It 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.
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 plans to 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 would 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.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “This is an exciting project, which would put Liverpool at the forefront of building sustainable transport into everyday city life. With the major increases in the numbers of people living, working and visiting the city centre, we believe the time is right to introduce a cycle hire scheme, to reduce reliance on the car and to offer a low carbon, low cost, healthier way to get around Liverpool.
“Whether it’s for the last mile of the journey to and from the office, to travel across town to attend meetings, to get to university lectures, or to visit shops and tourist attractions, we think this initiative could bring huge benefits to a wide range of people.”
The city council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor Tim Moore, said: “Liverpool has a low level of bicycle ownership, but recent figures from our Local Transport Plan show that cycling is on the up in this city – so we know there’s an appetite for it. We hope this scheme will help further widen the appeal and accessibility of cycling for local people.
“If we want to reduce congestion and pollution, we need to find creative ways to limit the growth of car journeys and promote sustainable transport. A cycle hire scheme is a great way of doing that. And we hope it will help drive up the health and fitness of many more local people by encouraging them to hop on a bike for all their trips around the city.”
The 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 cycle hire 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 would seek to appoint a high quality cycle hire operator to take the project forward in terms of set up, marketing and operation.
Initial discussions have also been held with major employers in the city centre, who see the plans as a benefit to be promoted as part of their travel plans. The council hopes to establish links with key tourism, sites, educational institutions and major city centre employers over the cycle hire scheme.
Councillor Liam Robinson, Chair of Merseytravel, said: “This project will make a significant contribution to the sustainable transport offer to visitors and residents of Merseyside and supports the objectives of the Local Transport Plan and the Active Travel Strategy. It is a fantastic initiative and alongside the many other LSTF projects being delivered in Merseyside, it will also help to improve access to jobs and training.”
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.
New figures – in the 2011-12 LTP3 Merseyside cycle monitoring report – show that there has been a 20 per cent increase in the number of journeys made by bicycle in Liverpool over the past year. It means the city is already exceeding the target of 12 per cent set for 2011-15 in the Third Local Transport Plan for Merseyside (LTP3).
The Liverpool City Cycle Hire Scheme proposals will be considered by the city council Cabinet on Friday 21 December.
• Car ownership in Liverpool stands at 52% of households (compared to the England and Wales average of 73%), making cycle hire a viable and convenient additional mode of transport for the city.
• The City Centre resident population currently stands at around 35,000 and has seen dramatic increases in growth since the 1990’s.
• The number of commercial enterprises in Liverpool is now in excess of 13,500.
• Some 75,000 people are employed in the City Centre – 42,000 in tourist-focused services.
• It is estimated that 51,000 people commute into Liverpool City Centre daily. Of these 37% travel in by train, 21% by bus and 33% by car.
• Liverpool’s three universities, University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores and Liverpool Hope, have a combined student population of around 52,000 with a large proportion living and/or studying in or near the city centre. All three institutions have active Travel Plans to encourage travel by sustainable modes, particularly for short trips within the city centre.
• Traffic into the city centre has grown by 4% since 2000 and it has been declared an Air Quality Management Action Area (AQMA), largely as a result of emissions from vehicles. This presents opportunities and demand for developing alternatives to the car.