Belfast council in reverse on bike scheme cost-cutting plan

The Belfast Bikes scheme was launched  in April 2015 and has nearly 5,000 annual subscribers
The Belfast Bikes scheme was launched in April 2015 and has nearly 5,000 annual subscribers

Belfast City Council has made a U-turn on a proposal to make savings on its high-profile bike-hiring scheme.

Belfast Bikes was launched in April 2015 and to date more than 350,000 journeys have been made around the city using the public hire bicycles.

There are more than 30 docking stations throughout Belfast city centre

There are more than 30 docking stations throughout Belfast city centre

However, in the lead up to new rates being set for the city, a recent proposal was put forward to reduce the amount of time subscribers could use the bikes free of charge.

The plan was to cut the free time on the bicycles from 30 minutes to 15 minutes resulting in a saving of £15,000.

The proposal was backed by all parties with the exception of Alliance, who said it would “result in reduced usage of the bikes and so jeopardise the success of the scheme”.

In its first year Belfast Bikes scheme attracted around 3,500 subscribers.

The total number of annual subscribers now stands at 4,668 and the bikes account for 354,580 journey in the city.

There have also been 4,845 casual subscribers who have paid for three-day access.

In order to use the Belfast Bikes you must sign up as either an annual or casual subscriber then pay per journey.

Last week, with everything pointing towards a cutback in the scheme, councillors on the policy and resources committee voted to keep the status quo with the first 30 minutes of a journey on the bikes remaining free.

Alliance councillor Michael Long said: “The Belfast bikes scheme has been hugely successful, whether improving people’s health, changing the infrastructure of the city or attracting more tourists. I hope this vote means that success remains.

“The proposed saving of £15,000 is not a large amount in relation to a budget of £150 million, particularly given the obvious benefits.”