Northampton's Boris-Bike style hire scheme stops after vandalism

An 'unsustainable' cycle hire scheme in Northampton has been stopped following an increase in vandalism and recent increases in operational costs.

Thursday, 5th September 2019, 5:20 pm
Fifteen new bikes were fitted in Brackmills Industrial Estate back in 2014, enabling employees and visitors to the estate to cycle around the estate and between the town centre, train station and across to both University campuses. (File picture).

Cycle CoNNect - similar to the ‘Boris bikes’ available in London - were designed to create a low cost, convenient and sustainable way to travel about the town in 2014.

It was announced yesterday that the bicycle scheme, which was used for leisure rides, commuter journeys, shopping trips and student travel, had been stopped after a spate of vandalism and an increase in operational costs.

The £150,000 project provided 50 bicycles for public hire at any time of the day, every day, from ten sites across the town centre, Brackmills Industrial Estate and the former university campuses.

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An email sent out yesterday (Wednesday) by HourBike said that the scheme had become 'unsustainable'.

It read: 'It is with sadness that after five years of operation, we have to announce the CycleConnect bikeshare scheme is closing.

'The network had grown from it's original ten docking stations in 2014 and was popular amongst residents and students. However the scheme has been run without any operational funding support since 2017 and combined with an increase in vandalism and recent increases in operational costs, the scheme has become unsustainable.

'We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone so much for their support over the years of operation. The people and businesses of Northampton embraced the scheme and were so helpful in making it popular.'

‘Cycle CoNNect’ was chosen as the name for the initiative, out of over 500 entries from across the county, including many entered by schoolchildren. NN was inspired by Northamptonshire's postcode.

It came as part of the county council’s wider ambition to improve sustainable transport links in Northamptonshire.

Councillor Jason Smithers, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for highways and place, today said: “The Cycle CoNNect scheme was set up in 2014 and initially received public funding to get it established.

“It was always the intention that the scheme paid for itself and from 2017 the provider, Hourbike, took on the commercial aspect of the initiative. At that time subscription rates were rising steadily.

“There have been many influences that have affected the scheme being able to pay for itself including vandalism and developments in the bike hire market as a whole. Many schemes across the country have been in a similar situation having to stop or evolve and this is not unique to Northampton.

“The infrastructure is being kept in place while options are explored to see if a similar scheme can be operated in the future.”