Bike Share Scheme Proposed for York

On Thursday 12th July 2018 the Council’s Executive Member for Transport and Planning met to discuss proposals to pave the way for introducing a Bike Share Scheme to the city. In the run up to meeting York Cycle Campaign polled its members to see if they supported a bike share scheme.

Results of the York Cycle Campaign bike share poll

87% were in favour of a bike hire scheme, of which: 39% supported only a docked scheme; 16% supported only a dockless scheme; and 32% expressed no preference. The remaining 13% opposed a bike hire scheme.

York Cycle Campaign had the opportunity to share the results of the poll, as well as comments it had recieved from its membership at the executive meeting. You can read our response in full below.

The decision from the session was to allow Council officers to pursue a dockless system to be operated by an independent operator, with the final decision on implementation to be made by the Executive. This was under the following conditions:

  • If implemented, the scheme would be trialled for an initial year period, and that the scheme must not require ongoing public sector revenue to ensure its continued operation;
  • Council officers will agree the detailed specification of the scheme with key York partners: LNER, York NHS Trust, and the Universities;
  • To undertake further consultation and incorporate representation in the interview stage of the procurement from the following groups: Make it York, The York Bid, York Walk and Cycle Forum, and The York Cycle Campaign and,
  • When preparing the tender documents, seek views from the following groups:
    • groups representing people with mobility impairments (such as the York Blind and Partially Sighted Society),
    • representatives from bike retailers,
    • representatives from Como UK (the body representing much of the bike share industry,
    • parties implementing counter-terrorism measures,
  • To build-in safeguards to allow the scheme to be withdrawn in the case of harm to public safety or to the environment.

(Read the decision in full)

The Campaign’s report to the executive session is as follows:

‘The introduction of a bike hire scheme has prompted much discussion amongst York Cycle Campaign’s growing membership. We polled them for their thoughts on the options being considered; here are the results.

There is strong support amongst our members for a bike hire scheme. 87% of members who responded to our poll back the introduction, of which 39% expressed explicit support for a docked scheme, 16% explicit support for a dockless scheme, and 32% expressed no preference.

Members’ enthusiasm came from their experience of using similar schemes in cities throughout the UK and the world. Other reasons for support generally included the belief that a large number of different users could benefit, the fact that its operator, not the Council, would mostly foot the cost, and that “anything that encourages cycling is a good thing.”

The Campaign members who expressed support for a dockless scheme hailed its flexibility, and their view that insufficient space exists in York for bike docks.

Of those members who expressed a preference, more than twice as many preferred docked over dockless. Perceived advantages included: more certainty over where bikes could be found; prevention of bikes cluttering up streets or worse, being vandalised and dumped.

Although overwhelmingly supportive of a bike hire scheme in York, Campaign members are keen that it be implemented in as flexible a way as possible. Payment will presumably be made via an app, but we wonder if an Oyster Card-type system, where pre-paid cards are bought from local shops, may be possible. Secondly, the bikes should be suitable for the majority of York’s population, and not too heavy to manoeuvre. We understand that child seats and cargo-carrying abilities won’t be available initially but our members hope that if the scheme is a success, the council will consider ways of making this possible in future. Thirdly, well-maintained, conveniently-located bikes were seen as critical.

Many members, including the few who oppose a bike hire scheme at all, have called for better infrastructure to support cyclists in York. Outright opponents question what evidence exists that bike hire schemes lead to people taking up cycling, and some fear that the proposals are more of a box ticking exercise than a serious effort to encourage cycling in York.

The Campaign would also like to know who will evaluate the qualitative elements of the tenders. We urge that a diverse panel is selected to better represent the requirements of the end users and the city as a whole. 

Overall, the attitude of York Cycle Campaigners towards the proposed introduction of a bike hire scheme is one of firm support, with a docked scheme enjoying strongest explicit backing, so long as the docks don’t take space away from existing cycle parking. Should the decision be taken today to proceed, the Campaign would be happy to work closely with the Council, offering the benefit of our diverse membership’s expertise and views, to help ensure the scheme is a success.’

You can watch the full decision session here:

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