Good news, everyone! Cardiff Council and Nextbike have announced that its new bike hire scheme will be arriving next spring.
From May 2018 the scheme will include 250 bikes across 25 docking stations, before ramping up in 2019 to 500 bikes across 50 stations.
How it’ll work…
It’s difficult to talk about a bike hire scheme in Cardiff without someone bringing up the ill-fated Oybike scheme. Thankfully things have moved on in the bikeshare world since then –not to mention in the way Cardiff sees cycling.
Unlike the previous scheme the installation and management of it is funded entirely by the company, through users paying to use the service and through advertising. This means it is in the interests of the company to make it work.
Plus, nextbike seems to know what it is doing. It operates some big schemes around the world –120 in total and is currently working on a huge scheme in Berlin. However, if you can’t wait until May to try a nextbike, you’ll find them in Bath too. The added benefit being that if you have already signed up to the service, you can ride a nextbike in any of the other 120-odd locations.
Cllr Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Planning and Transport welcomed the announcement, saying:
We are delighted to welcome nextbike into Cardiff. A bike hire scheme is a vital part of a true cycling city and I am delighted nextbike have recognised the great potential for cycling in Cardiff. We’ve seen in London how their bike scheme really increased the accessibility and visibility of bikes and we think nextbike will do the same for Cardiff. Cardiff is a compact and relatively flat city so cycling is a good option for shorter journeys. This scheme is only part of the Cabinet’s plans to improve the cycling infrastructure to encourage people that live in or close to the city to leave their cars at home and consider alternative options
The bikes themselves are quite clever. They use advanced technology and enhanced security features, including integrated front locks and GPS tracking. There is a nextbike app that will allow you to register, but you can also call the hotline to get a pin code via SMS or use a nearby terminal.
The bike pictured above is apparently a 3rd generation model and Cardiff will be getting a newer model with changes to brakes, lights etc
Where they will be…
Dock locations can make or break a bike hire scheme like this, so between now and the rollout in May nextbike is hoping to get feedback on where you think one of the first 25 docking stations should go. We talked briefly about this earlier in the week and also pointed out that businesses often see a boost in dock locations.
“We know there will be huge demand for these bikes and interest in the location of the docking stations. We would encourage the public’s feedback and ask people to fill in a short online questionnaire with their ideas https://www.snapsurveys.com/wh/s.asp?k=151249355464”
Julian Scriven, MD of nextbike UK has said that the benefits to Cardiff will be enormous.
Mr Scriven said: “From reducing congestion and creating new jobs, to improving health and mobility, bikeshare is having a real impact wherever it goes.
“Our research shows that bike sharing users spend more at local stores, property prices by docking stations increase and car parking demand falls, as does congestion and the resulting pollution.”
Cycling can be an abstract activity unless you are doing it all the time. Take it from me, it’s very easy to fall out of the habit, particularly when the weather turns. I am hopeful that finally having a bike hire scheme in all the right places around Cardiff will give people who don’t yet have a bike, or have let theirs turn to rust in the garage, the chance to fall in love with cycling all over again.
Whilst at the press event I had chance to talk to Julian from nextbike, a few others from his team and some of the council officers supporting Caro in delivering the council’s cycling strategy. I came away feeling energised.
The council seems keen to make sure that the cost of using a hire bike is accessible to people across all income brackets, from the poorest to the richest. If you look at the statistics, right across Wales the highest incidences of cardiovascular disease are in the poorest communities.
Giving everyone a fair shot at independence and the chance to stave off avoidable health problems just by getting from A to B is something all councils should strive for. The nextbike scheme offers the flexibility to provide lower-cost access to those who need it.
It isn’t dependent on having a smartphone, as you can sign up for a card, use a terminal or over the phone. It’s apparently very easy to use. Thanks, Mike!
This is of course in conjunction with an investment in cycle infrastructure over the next few years; in policing dangerous passes and a renewed focus on modal shift. It should allow nextbike to grow and thrive in Cardiff. Perhaps we’ll even see a further 250 bikes in 2020, who knows.
Between now and May we all need to get busy putting our suggestions forward for where docks need to go. Exciting times are ahead.
The scheme is now live and you won’t have to go too far to find a nextbike station. We put together a handy how-to guide here.