The brakes go on for return of Boris Bikes

The Oxford Times: County council cabinet member for transport David Nimmo Smith launches the hire bike scheme in Headington in June last year.  Picture: OX59843 Jon Lewis Buy this photo County council cabinet member for transport David Nimmo Smith launches the hire bike scheme in Headington in June last year. Picture: OX59843 Jon Lewis

THE relaunch of a Headington “Boris Bikes”-style cycle hire scheme has been delayed for at least two months.

A firm set to take over the OxonBike scheme from another company said it needs more time to install its own technology.

Previous operator Grand Scheme began the scheme – which provides free bikes for up to 30 minutes – from July last year.

But it went into liquidation in November. HourBike was set to take over this month but now says it needs more time to install technology.

Riders registered for the scheme online for £1 and were given a code to unlock the bike, with charges starting to click in after the free 30 minutes.

Under Grand Scheme, cyclists put the code into a device on the bike but HourBike will have the device on bike docking stations.

Users give their credit or debit card details when they register so those who use bikes over 30 minutes are charged.

Fees will stay the same – £1 for one to two hours, £2.50 for two to three, £15 for three to six and £30 for six to 24 hours.

Like London Mayor Boris Johnson’s popular scheme, it is aimed at getting people out of cars to cut pollution and congestion. By the end of October, 496 people had used the bikes.

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There are 30 bikes at Thornhill Park-and-Ride, the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford University’s Old Road Campus, the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Churchill Hospital and Oxford Brookes University’s Gipsy Lane site.

Oxfordshire County Council, which has a £150,000 Government grant for the scheme, has given HourBike a 12-month contract.

The Oxford Times:

Simon Hunt

Simon Hunt, chairman of city cycle lobby group Cyclox, said: “The scheme was always an experiment as to whether the technology would work.

“For the first group the finances clearly didn’t work and that is a shame but the books need to balance.

“It has never got to the stage when people are depending on the bikes to get about.

“You have got to keep on trying and see what happens and if there is a place in Oxford for bike hire schemes, like there is in cities like London.

“It would be marvellous if the whole city could have access to the scheme.”

Council spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “We are working with HourBike to decide on a definite date and expect to make an announcement shortly.

“It is probable that the scheme will relaunch in June, although we will do it sooner if we can.

“The good news is that the scheme will run for a full twelve months as originally planned – putting back the launch date does not mean that the scheme will run for a shorter period.

“During the 12 months we will be looking closely at any opportunities for funding to run Oxonbike beyond the 12 months that is funded so far.”

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