Blackpool launches largest cycle hire scheme in UK to win back tourists

Blackpool has today unveiled its biggest weapon to win back a nation of staycationers, with the launch of the country’s first, large-scale cycle-hire scheme.

The scheme, jointly funded by Cycling England, Blackpool NHS and the local council, to the tune of £1million over three years, aims to revitalise Blackpool’s tourism industry and cement the town’s reputation as a cycling destination.

Blackpool’s bike hire is modelled on the popular Parisian scheme which allows residents and tourists to hire bikes from automated stands located across the town, with 60 brightly coloured bikes in a variety of sizes initially available. The bike stands are located around the famous promenade and pleasure beach, and also situated in local parks to encourage cyclists to make use of the surrounding nature reserves and countryside.

The number of bikes is set to increase to 500 by May 2010, located at 100 bike hubs across Blackpool, making it the largest scheme in the country and providing residents and tourists with a cheap, convenient and healthy way of getting around.

Councillor Maxine Callow, Cabinet Member for Tourism and Regeneration, said: “Our dedication to cycling initiatives is a massive step forward in Blackpool’s efforts to boost tourism in the town and enhance our reputation as a family friendly holiday destination. I hope people will take the opportunity to make use of this clean, easy and affordable method of transport. They will be able to jump on a bike wherever they are and use it to get all over the town.”

Phillip Darnton, Chairman of Cycling England said: “Blackpool is one of 11 new Cycling Towns, receiving European levels of investment to pioneer cycling initiatives to get more people cycling, more safely, more often. These towns were announced last year by Cycling England following the successes of the original six cycling demonstration towns.

“Blackpool’s announcement today shows that cycle hire is taking hold in England and these schemes will make a real difference to the way we travel; to work and to school, as well as in our leisure time.

“Our network of towns and city are leading the way, with the recent launches of cycle hire schemes in Bristol, Southport and now Blackpool, the UK’s largest scheme to date. We know that locations need to tailor bike hire to suit their needs, whether they are large scale schemes aimed at significantly reducing commuter congestion or towns, such as Southport, which has just opened a cycle-hire scheme aimed at tourists to recreate the ambience of the seaside town.

“Blackpool’s cycle hire scheme is a very exciting development and one which demonstrates the town’s commitment to increase cycling levels, both with residents and visitors, and will play a significant part in boosting tourism in the region.”

Cyclists can access the bikes either by purchasing a day ticket for £8, which gives riders unlimited access to any of the bikes at any location, or by using a top-up card which allows users to hire a bike for £1 per hour with the first 30 minutes free, meaning that residents using bikes to commute can cut their travels costs significantly.

For further information on Blackpool’s cycle hire scheme, visit www.hourbike.com/blackpool