The Belfast Bikes hire scheme is on its way and I love it already. The bike stands and terminals have been popping up all around the City centre over the last few weeks and the launch day (27th April) is getting nearer.
Five things I love about it:
– It’s only an annual hire fee of £20
– I won’t need a taxi to get to Titanic Quarter quickly any more
– I’ll be able to hop on a bike and travel further down the Lagan than just walking would take me
– Phase one will have 30 terminals and 300 bikes
– I can use the App to hire!
Already, there has been a rush of cyclists sign up (over 500 so far apparently) to the £20 annual hire fee and there appears to be a buzz beginning. Every time something bike hire related happens, I watch people commenting and discussing it on twitter. The most recent twitter discussions came after one of the terminals stations close to Central Station was vandalised.
It appears the issue of vandalism isn’t just something we will experience in Belfast. A number of cities have come across these issues when a bike hire scheme first launched. Check out some of the issues in Paris , Liverpool, Dublin. Apart from the Paris scheme, the issues appear to be short lived. Let’s hope our scheme doesn’t follow in the footsteps of Paris and that the cycle hire facilities remain fully operational and free of vandalism for our communities, locals and tourists to use.
The Belfast Bikes will see our city centre continue to evolve into a cycle friendly city but no doubt there will be a few road/footpath issues along the way. Drivers of cars, vans and buses are getting used to having more cyclists on the busy vehicle-heavy roads again, and that’s only when cyclists actually use the road and don’t take over the footpaths. Drivers have road rage at cyclists, cyclists have road rage at drivers, and pedestrians have path rage at cyclists. Oh, and road tax doesn’t actually exist either, it’s actually more of a CO2 tax these days and the last I checked, a bike doesn’t do CO2. Let’s not forget about our still-developing city centre cycle path network which needs more improvements to accomodate the increasing number of cyclists. So yes, there’s a long way to go and a fair amount of educating needed for all road users..but we’ll get there! Baby steps!
I’m excited to get on a Belfast Bike as the last time I cycled in the City was on a bike tour in 2012. In preparation, I have registered, paid my £20 annual fee, handed over my payment details and downloaded the app (Nextbike).
Renting a bike appears easy enough as you can use the app, or use the terminal to swipe your customer card or enter your phone number, or call the hotline on the bike. The first half hour is free, then up to 1 hour is 50p.
My plan is, on a dry lunchbreak, to walk round the corner from work, jump on a bike from one of the 30 docking stations and go for a spin along the Lagan and get a bit fitter on the way.
Find out more about Belfast Bikes.
By Jeff Meredith