'Boris bikes' set to ride again with new operator

Oxford Mail: David Nimmo Smith at last year's launch David Nimmo Smith at last year's launch

BORIS bikes could soon be back in circulation after Oxfordshire County Council announced it is relaunching a scheme which ran into trouble last year.

The council is preparing to get back in the saddle with its “Boris bike” scheme.

The OxonBike scheme will be relaunched in April after the company which ran it went into liquidation.

A new operator – Surrey-based HourBike – has signed a contract with the council to run the scheme.

Officials say the cycle hire scheme will be largely unchanged, with charges and hire points remaining the same.

County councillor David Nimmo Smith, cabinet member for transport, said: “I am delighted to hear that HourBike will be getting the bikes back on the road in time for the summer.

“More than 500 people signed up to OxonBike last year and we are certain that they will get back in the saddle from April.

“Commuters who use Thornhill park-and-ride and who travel in and around Headington to places like the university and hospital are certain to be pleased to hear OxonBike will return.”

The £150,000, two-year project began in July to encourage people to turn to pedal power instead of their cars.

It was tried in Headington where commuters could hire one of 30 cycles from Thornhill park-and-ride, the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford University’s Old Road campus, the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Churchill Hospital and Oxford Brookes University’s Gipsy Lane site.

The scheme is fully funded by the Government via the Local Sustainable Transport fund and will continue until March 2015.

Tim Caswell, CEO of HourBike, said: “I am delighted that we have been given the opportunity to get involved in Oxford and help give commuters in the Headington area another way to get around.

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“April will be an exciting time as we relaunch the scheme and look forward to welcoming back OxonBike users old and new.”

HourBike already runs cycle hire schemes in Blackpool, Reading and Dumfries.

The cost of hiring the bikes will remain the same, with the first 30 minutes being free, but the technology used to borrow the bikes will change to a keypad system.

It is one of a number of schemes around the country which have been set up to mirror the one launched by Mayor of London Boris Johnson in 2010 – with the capital’s scheme now known as Boris bikes.

County council spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “We are pleased that an operator has come on board to run OxonBike and we will be looking closely at the results when it launches in April.

“Extending the scheme, or establishing others, either alone or in collaboration with other organisations is something that we could consider if funding was available.”

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