OXFORD is to trial its own “Boris Bikes” cycle hire scheme in the hope it will be rolled out in a city-wide scheme.
Visitors to Thornhill Park and Ride will be able to park up and hire a bicycle under the plans, which mirror a scheme introduced by Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
Oxfordshire County Council chiefs say the trial will go to the city’s four other park and rides if successful.
It is part of a Government cash boost that has also given the green light to a 500 space expansion of 850-space London Road park and ride for 2013.
Two new buses will also connect it to John Radcliffe and surrounding hospital sites and the city centre. It currently only stops at the Churchill and Nuffield hospitals.
And a new bus lane will also be installed along the London Road to the “hamburger” roundabout that connects the road to the northern and eastern by-pass.
The £3.5m plans were last night hailed as a key move towards cutting congestion and street parking, particularly among Oxford Brookes University and hospital workers.
Rodney Rose, cabinet member for transport at Oxfordshire County Council, said of the bike scheme: “It will be so much quicker for workers to get to work that way and relieve congestion for everybody else.”
He said it was too early to give prices for the scheme and how it would work in practice.
Bikes would be hired from Thornhill and returned there or at drop off points in the city, he said.
Mr Rose said of the long-mooted extension, on which work will start early next year: “It will make a big big difference.”
The news was welcomed by Delbrush Avenue resident Sue Barton, who said park and ride users often leave their cars across her drive and on grass verges.
She said: “If it has the desired affect then I will welcome it with open arms. The idea of supplying bikes is absolutely brilliant.”
Yet she said county plans to charge to park - yet to be agreed - could still hit residents. The £1-a-day charge was scrapped in 2008.
She said: “If they do that then people will start parking in residential streets.”
James Styring, spokesman for cycling campaign group Cyclox, said the cash could be better spent on other cycle schemes such as two-way lanes under Botley bridge.
He said: “To really work, it would need to be rolled out across the whole city.
“We wouldn’t want the scheme to fail if it wasn’t ambitious enough in scale.”
Brookes spokesman Edward Reed said: “We support initiatives which encourage sustainable transport and that aim to reduce peoples' reliance on cars.”
Oxford Bus Company managing director Philip Kirk said he was “delighted” with the news for the “extremely popular” park and ride.
He said: “The extra spaces will help keep more cars out of the centre of Oxford.”
The council has been given £5m, of which £1.8m will go on the extra spaces, £500,000 on the bus lane and £1.2m on the new buses.
The rest of the spaces cash will come from contributions from developers given as a condition of planning permission and council funds. Precise figures were not available.
The remaining £1.5m will go on the cycle scheme and other projects such as promotion of its car sharing scheme.
* Yesterday’s Oxford Mail reported a new cycle lane would be installed on London Road. This will in fact be a bus lane.
The article was based on incorrect information provided by the county council.