Fifty towns and cities – mostly in northern England – are to get Dutch-style rail station located bike rental schemes, thanks to Abellio, the public transport operator. Abellio runs many bus and rail services in the UK – including Merseyrail, Greater Anglia and Northern Rail – and is the international arm of the Dutch government rail operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen. The first scheme to start is the one on Merseyside, with other towns and cities going live between the end of August and November.
In the Netherlands, train companies discourage transport of bicycles on trains, offering short-term hire bikes instead. Abellio’s OV-Fiets network of bike rentals is the model for the Bike&Go scheme. The Netherlands has 230 OV-Fiets locations.
As with the Dutch scheme, Bike&Go will appeal to a core market of daily users who will take bikes to work or home overnight, and return the bikes to the same hire point. A limit of 72 hours continuous hire ensures users don’t keep bikes out of circulation by hanging on to them too long.
The towns and cities to get Bike&Go locations include Ipswich, Rotherham, Hexham, Sheffield Meadowhall, Alnmouth, Barnsley, Todmorden (a Singletrack Magazine bike test will happen no doubt), Manchester, Blackburn and Harrogate. There will also be a Bike&Go hire point at London’s Liverpool Street station.
In 2009, MPs and Lords from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group went on a study tour in the Netherlands and were shown the OV Fiets system.
The Bike&Go bikes are made for Abellio by Raleigh.