Anger as brakes put on bicycle share plan

CYCLISTS have criticised a decision by council bosses to put the brakes on a bike share scheme based on those in Paris and Barcelona.

The initiative, which had been a crucial element of the Capital's plans for reducing car use, is now expected to be dramatically scaled back.

However, council sources today insisted the scheme was not yet a "dead duck", adding that discussions were under way with potential advertisers who could help fund the project.

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Edinburgh is the only UK city to have signed up to the Charter of Brussels, a commitment to cycling which would see bikes account for 15 per cent of all journeys in Edinburgh by 2020.

In contrast, London, which has recently unveiled its own bike-share scheme, has a target of five per cent by 2026.

Chris Hill, who runs the City Cycling Edinburgh blog, said the council was failing in its obligations following its "headline-grabbing" signature of the European charter. He said: "Certainly the council is lukewarm about the whole idea of a bike share scheme. Other schemes have been funded by advertising, but they have not got the sorts of money they had in London or Paris.

"The reality in Paris is that lots more people are cycling, so it has been a good thing. The council needs to spend a lot more on cycling, but this is symptomatic of how seriously they are taking their responsibility."

It now seems that a city-wide scheme has been dropped in favour of a smaller alternative, with a just a few bikes at one or two locations.

Tory councillor Iain Whyte, who first proposed the scheme after seeing one in operation on a trip to Lyon, said: "This sounds very disappointing when other cities in Europe have managed to do it at little or no cost by using advertising revenues.

"I would still hope there's an opportunity to have a much bigger scheme in the future, with bikes at all of the tram stops."

Tram bosses have already said they intend to allow trials in which cyclists will be able to take their bikes onboard – a UK first. However, the trial will not begin until at least a year after the trams are up and running.

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A council spokesman said: "We remain committed to introducing a bike share scheme in Edinburgh and are exploring a number of options with our private sector partners.

"An update will be included in a wider report on active travel going before the transport committee in September."