Brighton’s ‘Boris bikes’ scheme suffers hold up

Brighton bike share SUS-170315-165659001
Brighton bike share SUS-170315-165659001

A shared bike scheme set to launch in Brighton and Hove this month has been delayed until September.

The scheme – similar to the ‘Boris bikes’ project in London – will see 430 bikes at 50 docking stations across the city, including busy spots such as the seafront, Brighton station and the universities.

Brighton and Hove City Council awarded a three-year contract to run the scheme to operator Hourbike, but it has taken ‘longer than expected’ to finalise contracts, which has caused knock-on delays, the council said.

Cllr Tony Janio, leader of the Conservative group on Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “When the Conservatives were running the council we were close to completing the bike scheme and even went out to tender.

“Now six years later after miserable performances from the Green and Labour administrations this is still dragging on meaning this will be yet another summer where residents and visitors to Brighton and Hove will not be able to utilise the scheme. It really is not good enough.”

Cllr Leo Littman, Green spokesperson for environment, said: “We were promised this bike scheme would be in operation well in time for the summer rush of tourists and now we hear it won’t be ready until September.

“Brighton and Hove has some of the highest traffic congestion and air pollution levels in the South East so it is incredibly disappointing that there has been a delay.

“Alongside this Labour council’s failure to regenerate our seafront, the stalling of the Valley Gardens scheme and the absence of the desperately needed new secondary school, we can now add the bike scheme to the list of vital improvements that are nowhere in sight.

“Given that so many projects were handed to Labour on a plate by the previous Green council, their failure to complete projects in a timely fashion hints either at a lack of political will or gross incompetence.”

Cllr Gill Mitchell, Labour’s chair of the environment committee, said: “This is one of the many exciting schemes the city is looking forward to, and everyone has been working hard to get it up and running. It will be a great new facility for residents and visitors.”

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesperson said: “A council spokesperson said: “We’re now expecting the bikes to be available to ride in early September.

“We had initially hoped the date would be June. But it took longer than expected finalising contracts for the scheme. That led to knock-on delays ordering the bikes. The process of securing the docking station locations and consultation on that was also more time-consuming than we had hoped. We expect to start installing around 50 docking stations from July onwards.

“It would have been nice to be ready for summer visitors. Instead we’ll catch the influx of students and conference-goers in the Autumn – when we have one of the big political conferences here. It won’t affect the scheme in the long term.”