The Council has launched a proposed new Cycling Strategy for Reading, on the same day it announces the partner organisation that is going to deliver a new bike hire scheme for the town.
Reading’s draft Cycling Strategy 2013 builds on the achievements of the 2008 Strategy. Over the coming weeks and months the Council will be asking for feedback from the town’s regular and occasional cyclists, as well as opinions from people who currently don’t cycle at all. All comments will be considered before the Cycling Strategy is finalised and approved early next year.
Reading’s Bike Hire Scheme
Spring next year is when the town’s new bike hire scheme goes live on the streets of Reading. The Council can today announce Hourbike as the winning bidder who will help to deliver a bike hire scheme, initially consisting of 200 bicycles at 29 docking stations inside and outside the borough.
The Surrey-based company has experience of operating similar schemes in the UK including in Dumfries, Nottingham, Lincoln and Southport. They also provided key assistance to Moscow’s bike hire scheme, which achieved 10,000 rentals in its first month.
Highlights of the proposed scheme for Reading include:
• 200 bikes across 29 docking sites, including Reading Station, Broad Street (including by the Oracle and Broad Street Mall), Thames Valley Park, University of Reading, Madejski Stadium, Green Park and Caversham
• Free half-hour use for members at the start of every rental, meaning that for many members the majority of their cycle trips will be free
• An easy to use website for registration and for members to top-up and manage their accounts
• An operating system compatible with both smartcards and PIN’s where customers either touch their card to the docking station reader or verify their individual number on a docking station keypad to release a bike
• Pre-payment for use of bikes, similar to a pay as you go mobile
• Two main types of annual membership - Individual or Business - with occasional or one-off temporary hires also available
• Bikes fitted with electronic chips, enabling them to be tracked at every docking station
• Flexibility to move bikes quickly between docking stations to cater for morning and evening peak demand
Hourbike’s bike hire scheme for Reading is simple to use. To rent a bike, users tap in their PIN or touch their card and, once the selected bike has been chosen at the console, a light on top of the selected lock will begin to flash meaning it is ready to use. To return a bike, the user only has to insert their bike into any empty lock at any station. The lock will accept the bike and automatically close the open rental period for that user on an electronic system. Members can keep a constant check on their personal account at a Reading-specific Hourbike website.
Whilst Phase One of the bike hire scheme is for 200 bikes, provision is made in the contract with Hourbike to expand the scheme to more places within Reading, Wokingham and potentially West Berkshire in the future, depending on the success of the scheme and available funding.
Reading’s Bike Hire scheme forms part of Reading Borough Council’s successful Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF), which also includes the proposed shared Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge over the Thames, which is going to as meeting of the Planning Applications Committee on Wednesday October 16th for consideration.
Reading’s Cycle Strategy
Reading’s draft new Cycling Strategy is called ‘Bridging Gaps, Overcoming Barriers and Promoting Safer Cycling.’
It builds on the achievements of the 2008 Cycling Strategy, which included developing colour-coded cycle routes and associated route maps, Bikeability cycle training completed by 1,500 children since 2009, and a series of successful workplace cycle challenge events.
Reading Borough Council’s successful £25 million LSTF bids have opened up a number of opportunities to help achieve the Council’s overall ambition of encouraging more people to choose cycling as a way of getting around. This includes aiming for 2,300 additional cycle trips every day by April 2015, and doubling the percentage of people cycling to work in the next five years.
The draft Cycling Strategy contains a series of schemes, initiatives and aims. These include:
• opening the proposed Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge by Summer 2015 and a new Bike Hire scheme for Reading by Spring 2014
• opening up the Napier Road underpass to provide a key link between Newtown and the National Cycle Route by Summer 2014
• a substantial increase in the number of cycle parking spaces, including doubling cycle parking at Reading Station by opening a new Cycle Parking Hub by Autumn 2014
• a review of existing and potential new cycle routes - including signage - to make travelling between routes easier for cyclists
• investigating opportunities to improve road lay outs - including advanced Stop Lines - where there is sufficient width and lane capacity is not reduced
• working in partnership with Thames Valley Police to help educate people about the dangers of cycling on pavements along with targeted enforcement
• continuing to providing cycle training -including for primary and secondary school pupils - that improves confidence and highlights the benefits of cycling
• maintaining a programme of installing improved street lighting, and supporting campaigns aimed at making drivers more aware of vulnerable road users, including cyclists.
The Draft Strategy Cycling Strategy 2013 is now online (see link above). It is accompanied by a survey, which includes a series of questions about the sorts of things that would encourage more people to try out cycling as a way of getting around.
The public consultation is now open and runs until January 10. All responses will be considered before the Cycling Strategy is finalised in early 2014.