Bike hire scheme to begin in summer

From The Argus

A Smartbike is tried out along Brighton seafront

A Smartbike is tried out along Brighton seafront

Brighton’s Boris Bike-style scheme will be up and running by June.

More than 400 bikes will be located at 50 docking stations across the city.

Bike sharing company Hourbike will run the £1.45 million scheme on behalf of Brighton and Hove City Council with charges ranging from £2 per journey.

A day pass will cost £8 and an annual pass, which includes 30 minutes free each day, will be £72.

The scheme is funded with £1.16 million of taxpayer cash courtesy of the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) with the council providing £290,000.

Despite the LEP funding, the majority of the start-up costs, the council will become the owners of the scheme, including the bikes and stations.

Hourbike will be responsible for operating the project, including call centres, mechanics, and vans and drivers to relocate and redistribute the bikes. It will also fund any maintenance.

It is thought five jobs will also be created.

The company’s incentive is in advertising on the bikes and revenue from users.

Hourbike will keep charges paid by cyclists up to a threshold, after which profits will be shared with the council.

It is estimated the local authority will make between £20,000 and £25,000 each year.

Hourbike, which has signed a three-year contract with the council, has also unveiled the Brighton bike as the SoBi Smartbike.

The Dutch-style bike comes with seat suspension, basket, front and rear lights and a computer tracker.

The scheme has been welcomed by groups across the city.

Simon Hughes, chairman of Brighton Mitre Cycling Club, said it would encourage users to be responsible on the roads.

He said: “It’s a nice place to cycle. The traffic doesn’t move very fast and it has some good cycle lanes, so it is great for inexperienced cyclists.

“Although people using the bikes will need to be sensible and considerate to pedestrians and other road users.”

It is hoped the scheme will also eliminate around 300,000 car journeys a year, helping reduce congestion and improve air quality.

However, there has been criticism about the proposed locations of the docking stations.

The 50 stations will be based along the seafront and up Lewes Road towards the university campuses.

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