Yesterday I took part in the launch of the new Hirebike scheme in Lincoln.
The initiative, which is part of the AccessLN6 project, is designed to encourage the use of sustainable transport in Lincoln. The orange bikes are available to members of the public to hire from six (soon to be eight) locations across the city’s LN6 postcode area.
We met at the Think Tank on Ruston Way to have a try of the bikes before riding in convoy over the University Bridge and along the Brayford where lots of people, including the Major and Sheriff of Lincoln, were waiting for us. I’m not sure what the many people who saw us riding along with our orange bikes and orange tshirts thought was going on – but I had a great time riding along and dinging my bell! And to be presented with orange juice, orange iced pastries and oranges (can you sense a theme developing here?!) when we arrived at the new Hirebike station outside the Royal William IV pub just added to the experience!
The bikes themselves are of simple design but they seem to have everything you might need. They have rugged construction (these things have to cope with lots of different riders!), three gears (a twist-style gear changer is located on the left handlebar), a step through frame, lights that power on as you ride, enclosed mud guards to protect clothing from the spokes and any spray, a comfortable saddle with easily adjustable height, a bright sounding bell, and a rack with bungee cord to secure your bag while you ride. I found it comfortable and easy to ride – it didn’t take any getting used to. To be honest I’m not sure how well I’d manage up Steep Hill with just those three gears, and I’m not 100% convinced those brakes would stop me quickly if I whizzed down it again; but all in all the bikes seem very fit for purpose.
Each bright orange bike has a name – the one I rode was actually called Zoe. Really. It made me smile anyway!
I know many people feel the introduction of Boris bikes to Lincoln is a bit of an odd thing to do, and I’ve seen lots of comments suggesting the bikes will be stolen, vandalised, or simply not used. Sadly, there are always idiots who like to ruin things like this for everyone else through some criminal act or another. But I really hope this scheme is a success – I hope that I see these bikes being used every day around Lincoln by locals as visitors. It’s already happening - I was very pleased to see two of them being ridden back to the Brayford yesterday evening when I was on my way out for dinner.
I was asked a number of times at the launch if I will be using the Hirebike scheme myself. Well yes, I think I will, and I will definitely be signing up so I’m prepared. I already cycle to work and so on the majority of occasions my bicycle is already in town and therefore is available for me to use if I fancy a leisurely ride at lunch time or need to get somewhere for a meeting. But should my bike not be in town then I would much rather hire a bike for a short time than use a car or taxi, and this scheme gives me that option.
I can see this scheme being used by people for leisure. I quite like the idea of using a bike from the rack outside the Royal William IV to have a nice ride out to the Pyewipe Inn or Burton Waters for some lunch, before riding back again – that would be rather civilised and an excellent way to see some our lovely scenery as well as get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air.
I’d like to see a few more locations added, and wonder if the spread of the bikes at the moment might limit their use. My suggestions would be Tritton Road near Morrisons/Staples/TKMaxx, the Showroom, West Common near the Grandstand, Hartsholme Country Park, Newark Road/Brant Road area, Burton Waters, Wragby Road and of course at least a couple in uphill Lincoln – these additions might make the scheme more accessible to people from all over the city as well as tourists. Of course I realise that the initial locations we have need to prove useful before any expansion is done, and I genuinely hope they do.
If you are from Lincoln or are planning to visit city, sign up to the Hirebike scheme online now in preparation. It is free to sign up but you do need to put some credit onto your account to actually be able to hire a bike.
Let me know if you try out the Lincoln Hirebikes – and I’d love to see you posing with Zoe; I’ll keep an eye on the hashtag #HirebikeZoe over on twitter and instagram to see where you take her!!