More unveils UK free bike plan

A scheme to encourage inner city cycling, involving free access to hundreds of electronically-tagged bikes, is about to be introduced to the UK.

Outdoor contractor the More Group is to offer local authorities the chance to install a network of vandal-proof cycles, which will be left around the town in locked groups, or “docking stations”.

Bikes will be part-financed by carrying a small amount of sponsorship advertising on their frames.

Pedestrians can borrow a bike by unlocking it with a swipe card, cycle to their destination and then leave the bike in a different docking station. The special card is obtained by applying to the local authority, as with a library card, so checks can be made on potential users and stolen bikes can be traced.

The More Group hopes its scheme will persuade local authorities to award it more bus shelter contracts, particularly at a time when the Government is pressing for environmentally-friendly transport policies.

Coline McConville, group development director and soon to be chief operating officer for the More Group, says: “In the same way that you get a library book on trust, you get a bike on trust.” She says a number of UK local authorities have shown interest.

The scheme, which was developed in Belgium and christened “Plan Vélo”, is overseen from a central monitoring station, which can identify the location of each bike through its electronic chip.

McConville says the scheme, which is already in use in Rennes in France, has also attracted interest from Brisbane and Singapore.

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