Nottingham's 'Boris bikes' hired by less than one person a day
LESS than one bicycle a day has been hired in the six months since Nottingham's city bike scheme was launched.
The council's Citycard Cycles have been hired 126 times since September.
But Nottingham City Council is hoping interest from commuters and tourists will pick up once the weather improves.
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Murray Brown, 38, of Shakespeare Street in the city centre, has hired the bikes regularly.
He said: "I've used them to go from library to library to find books that aren't in the Central Library.
"The bikes are fine and they've been free to use, which is great. I don't know if everyone knows they are there to hire.
"I often think twice about going out on the bike because of the weather. I'm sure people will use them more in the summer."
Figures supplied to the Post by the city council show 40 bikes were hired in September, 29 in October. Seven were hired in November, nine in December, and 11 in January. Fourteen were hired last month, with 16 so far this month up to Wednesday.
Most of the bikes were hired at Nottingham Tourism Centre.
Neil Beardsley, senior information assistant at the centre, said: "We had a few regular customers when they first came out, people who hired them on a daily or weekly basis.
"We also found a lot of international students from the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University were hiring them over the weekend.
"We do get a lot of people enquiring about them, saying when the weather gets better they will come back and get one. Hopefully when the spring and summer comes we should be hiring them out every day."
As part of the Citycard Cycles scheme, five cycle hubs have been set up around the city where people can hire the bikes and lock their own bikes up more securely.
Since their launch, 853 cyclists have registered to use the hubs at Nottingham train station, Broadmarsh Bus Station, Fletcher Gate car park, and the Queens Drive and Colwick park and ride sites.
They include covered parking, lighting, CCTV, and Citycard access control doors.
The scheme has been funded entirely by the Department for Transport, costing up to £350,000, and is being implemented over two years. The plan is for up to 250 hire bikes to be available at 17 bike stands across Nottingham, including Wollaton Park and Nottingham Castle.
The council expects to spend no more than £50,000 per year to keep the scheme running.
A new scheme allowing people to book a bike using a mobile phone is due to start in May.
Councillor Jane Urquhart said: "We are hopeful that we have put the right infrastructure in place so as the weather starts to improve we will see people taking this up."
Graham Hubbard, co-ordinator of Lenton-based cycle training company Ridewise, said the council has provided him with ten CityCard bikes to help teach people how to ride.
He said: "I think it's fantastic the city council has undertaken this scheme.
"I would hope that the city council will up the ante on advertising this provision. A lot of people might see the bikes and not be entirely clear they can be borrowed, and that the process is easy."
Greater Nottingham Transport Partnership chairman Gary Smerdon-White said: "The main thing to think about is the way this is being implemented.
"The bike hubs are starting to be used. The next step is to get more places where people can hire them."