ScotRail axes cycle hire scheme after too few passengers rent bikes

The scheme has been branded a failure.
The scheme has been branded a failure.
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ScotRail’s cycle hire scheme is to be scrapped after each of its bikes was rented an average of only about once a month, The Scotsman has learned.

The demise of Bike & Go at the end of September appears to mark the failure of Dutch operator Abellio to introduce Netherlands-style bike collection at stations.

The initiative will also end at Abellio’s other franchises on Merseyside and in East Anglia.

Bike & Go revealed its 103 cycles at ScotRail were rented in total an average of 122 times per four-week period over the last year.

But the most recent detailed figures available showed just 37 rentals in one period at the beginning of last year.

The scheme was launched by ScotRail in 2015 and operated at 12 ScotRail stations, including Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Haymarket.

Cycling groups said it became eclipsed by public hire schemes in the two cities.

Passengers also preferred to take their own cycles on trains, which are carried free, rather than hire them when they alight.

Ian Maxwell, of Spokes, the Lothian cycle campaign, said: “The scheme was not user-friendly, the bikes were too heavy and it was superseded in Edinburgh by the Just Eat Cycles scheme.

“If there are other hire schemes, I’m not sure ScotRail are the best people to run them.

“The priority should be more bike parking at stations, and in the right place.”

Jim Densham, campaigns and policy manager for Scotland for lobby group Cycling UK, said: “It is disappointing the scheme is being scrapped when other bike share schemes are popping up in our towns and cities.

“We need to find a way for all these different bike rental systems to work together as a national scheme, to make it much easier for people to use any of them as part of their journey.” The group is discussing taking on the bikes.

Keith Irving, chief executive of cycle promotion body Cycling Scotland, said: “ScotRail have recently provided far more bike parking at stations and we want to see increased investment in dedicated cycling routes to stations.”

A Bike & Go spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately, the number of rentals and members since it was introduced in 2014 meant the scheme was not self-sufficient and the decision has been made to close Bike & Go across the UK.”

A ScotRail spokesman said: “Bike & Go was part of our commitment to cycling provision for customers.

“We have engaged with Transport Scotland other key stakeholders regarding the closure of the scheme and outlined ScotRail’s ongoing commitment to cycle provision at stations.

“This includes ongoing work with commercial cycle hire schemes to locate cycle hire facilities at our stations.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “Although it is disappointing, we will ensure ScotRail continues to seek a suitable alternative as part of its commitment to support active travel [walking and cycling] and transport integration.”