Sheffield has joined the likes of London and Paris with the roll-out of the city’s public bike share scheme.
The first of its kind in Yorkshire, Sheffield ByCycle is operated by Sheffield University but is open to everyone, and people may already have spotted the distinctive blue bikes being used on city streets.
“These schemes enable people to use a bike when they want to, to do the shopping, go to a meeting or just get around with friends,” said university travel planner Darren Hardwick, the originator of the scheme, who worked up the idea over the last two years with students and colleagues.
The scheme already has 30 bikes in place at three university docking stations and two halls of residence, with further stations arriving this year at Devonshire Green, Barker’s Pool and Sheffield station.
Users can sign up for either a day or annual membership of £10, with the first 30 minutes free. After that, journeys cost £1 per hour, ending the moment bikes are docked in any station. Memberships are managed online.
Sheffield ByCycle is funded by the university, with initial costs of around £85,000 coming from car parking fees.
The city centre sites are to be funded through a government grant won by Sheffield Council, and the scheme aims to expand as other businesses fund their own bikes and docking stations: all will follow a standard design, but can incorporate logos from other organisations.
The typical cost would be around £10,000 for a docking station and five bikes.
The university has been awarded the title ‘Most Cycle Friendly Employer in the UK’, in recognition of various projects resulting in nine per cent of staff regularly cycling to work.
Potential pitfalls have been considered. Bikes are weatherproof and robust, but with a good spread of gears for hills.
All will be checked regularly by mechanics from Recycle Bikes, and some might be moved back uphill to the halls of residence.
Finally, there’s the scheme’s colloquial name.
London’s bikes are generally known as Boris Bikes, after the capital’s mayor Boris Johnson.
“But this is a Sheffield scheme, it’s nothing to do with Boris,” said Darren.
“We’ll just have to see what they get called.”
n Visit www.sheffieldbycycle.co.uk for more information.