Cycle CoNNect - Northampton’s own bicycle hire scheme is set to launch on Tuesday, creating a low cost, convenient and sustainable way to travel about the town.
Set up by Northamptonshire County Council and highways service provider MGWSP in partnership with Northampton Borough Council, Brackmills Estate and the University of Northampton, the £150k initiative will provide 50 bikes for public hire from 10 docking sites inside the borough.
The sceheme will be similar to the popular ‘Boris bikes’ already set up in London.
When the scheme opens next week six hubs will be available with the remaining four to open in the autumn.
Hire costs £1 up to one hour, then £1 for each additional hour up to a maximum of £5 per day. However initially, as a promotional offer, the first 30 minutes of each journey will be free of charge.
Registration is free, though on registration, users will have to add an initial £3 of credit to their account, which will remain in place until they use it for rentals.
The bicycles are fully-adjustable for size and comfort, and designed for casual and more experienced cyclists. The hire system is entirely automatic and the bicycles will be available to hire at any time of the day, seven days a week.
Cllr Michael Clarke, county council cabinet member for transport, highways and environment, said: “I’m delighted that this initiative is launching in time for the summer and I hope we’re blessed with some good weather so people will be encouraged to have a go on our new Cycle CoNNect bikes.
“This system really is very easy to use and the docking stations are located in the key transport hubs in the town, which means the bikes are suitable for leisure rides, commuter journeys, shopping trips and student travel.
“We know that we’ve got a lot of work to do to bring our cycle network up to how we’d like it to be but I see this enterprise as taking us a great step forward in doing this.”
The scheme is being run by Hourbike Ltd, which has made provision to expand the initiative to further locations within the town, depending on its success and income from the hire process.
The company has experience of operating similar schemes in the UK, including in Dumfries, Nottingham, Lincoln and Southport. Hourbike also provided key assistance to Moscow’s bike hire scheme, which achieved 10,000 rentals in its first month.
Highlights of the scheme include:
* 50 bikes across 10 docking locations, including the town centre, Beckets Park, the University of Northampton Park and Avenue campuses and Brackmills Industrial Estate.
* Low-cost and easy to use hire system
* A unique website for registration and for members to top-up and manage their accounts
* Pre-payment for use of bikes, similar to a pay as you go mobile phone.
* Local telephone number with unique website
Councillor David Mackintosh, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said: “We will have docking stations at various points across the town, making it an effective way of getting around.
“We’re hoping the beautiful weather we’re experiencing at the moment will encourage plenty of people to take advantage of the scheme.
“With 30 minutes free, it’s definitely worth hopping on for a short trip, so why not try them out.”
‘Cycle CoNNect’ was chosen as the name for the initiative through a competition, which attracted more than 500 entries from across the county, including many schoolchildren.
The name represents the network of connecting locations, from which the bicycles can be hired in a simple, quick and low-cost way. The ‘NN’ establishes the scheme as unique to the town and signifies the postcode of the county, easily recognisable to people living, travelling and visiting in Northamptonshire.
Jo Ewen, from Northampton, came up with the winning name and as a result won an iPad mini, which will be presented at the opening event.
The six hubs that will be available from next week are in Mercer’s Row, Beckett’s Park and Midsummer Meadow and in Gowerton Road, Salthouse Road and Pavilion Drive on the Brackmills industrial estate.
In the autumn hubs will be available at Northampton railway station (two hubs) and the University of Northampton (Avenue campus and Park campus).