Plans for Greater Manchester bike hire scheme move forward

The development of a Greater Manchester Bike Hire scheme has this week reached a major milestone as TfGM launches the search for a service provider.

The £10 million scheme, which is being part-funded by the Mayor’s Challenge Fund, is planned to launch in spring 2021. As part of the first phase of a two-part procurement process which will take place over the next few months, TfGM has opened up a tender process with the intention of appointing a provider by the end of the year.

Once live, phase one of the hire scheme will see a fleet of around 1,500 docked bikes, including e-bikes, installed in the city centre and key areas in Manchester, Salford and Trafford, offering an affordable travel option. These locations have been chosen because of their large resident population, high numbers of visitors, attractions and a high propensity to cycle amongst groups such as students. If the first phase is successful, the intention is to roll out the scheme across Greater Manchester.

Richard Nickson, TfGM’s director of Cycling and Walking, said: “This scheme is more timely than ever as we look towards the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic and how we Build Back Better, creating opportunities for a strong and successful recovery, while helping maintain the legacy of a 34% increase in cycle trips during lockdown.

“This scheme will play a pivotal role in enabling people to make short journeys in a sustainable way. Increasing access to bikes in this way will help cut air pollution, congestion and give people easier access to workplaces, leisure spots and key destinations via bike. Ultimately, we want it to be a part of the fabric of the city, that Greater Manchester residents feel a sense of ownership and pride over.”

Increasing access to bikes is a key part of the ‘Made to Move’ 15-step plan developed by walking and cycling commissioner Chris Boardman, published in 2017.

“A third of households across Greater Manchester don’t have access to a car and almost 75% don’t have access to a bicycle, limiting their travel options,” said Boardman. “GM bike hire will make bikes more accessible and convenient and deliver a viable travel option by providing public bikes within 500 metres of 100,000 households.

“This isn’t just about bikes, it’s about a holistic approach to sustainable transport which is exactly what the Mayor’s ‘Our Network’ plan aims to deliver, tying together public transport and active travel options to make a better place for everyone to live.”

Bidders will be invited to submit an initial response outlining their capabilities and experience as part of the procurement process. A shortlist will then be compiled, and successful bidders will go through to a more detailed tendering process.

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