IT is the pedal powered scheme that transformed the City of London’s transport system – and it could be coming to Southampton.
The Daily Echo can reveal a study has been launched into the idea of introducing public hire bikes – famously dubbed “Boris Bikes”– to the city.
Consultancy firm Transport Initiatives has been commissioned by Southampton City Council to carry out the study.
It could be 18 months before the bikes are seen in the city but the announcement has been welcomed by campaigners pushing for better cycling routes across the city.
But it is not yet known how the scheme will be funded.
The news also comes after plans for a similar £2m scheme for the New Forest could be back on track after the National Park Authority initially voted against the idea.
As reported, Hampshire County Council’s Cllr David Harrison wants to roll out the scheme on the edge of the national park – taking it out of the NPA’s hands.
Transport Initiatives is currently asking people for views on which locations in Southampton would benefit from the scheme ahead of a possible meeting with potential stakeholders next month.
The “Boris Bikes” self-service cycle hire scheme was introduced in London in 2010 by mayor Boris Johnson to encourage people to use two wheels rather than a car to cut down congestion on busy routes.
Despite the name, the scheme was actually the brainchild of previous mayor Ken Livingstone.
The London scheme is currently sponsored by Barclays although their partnership is set to come to an end.
Southampton City Council leader Cllr Simon Letts said a similar sponsor would be sought if the plans went ahead.
He said: “We are a pretty flat city and it is an ideal place to cycle around. If people can take a bus into town and cycle around, it’s to the benefit of everybody.
“The aim is to encourage cycling, which is good for the environment, good for the individual and good for the amount of traffic in the city centre.”
As reported, figures revealed that Hampshire is one of the cycling capitals of the country, with more than 20,000 people using pedal power to get to and from work.
Transport Initiatives says it will be looking at existing schemes across the country, and assessing what lessons can be learned that could apply to Southampton.
The news was welcomed by members of Southampton Cycling Campaign at one of its meetings earlier this week.
Lindsi Bluemel said: “All my family use Boris Bikes and we find them wonderful, but whether it would work in Southampton is the question.
“We would like to see more details of the scheme, but we generally approve of it.”
The group said it would like the scheme to be cheap and easy for people to use, and be regularly maintained, but admitted it would like to see the city’s cycling infrastructure improved before it is introduced.
David Cooper added: “There’s a lot of excitement and the reaction generally appears positive.
“We know that where it works best in places like London it goes hand in hand with decent infrastructure, and it would be lovely to see Southampton work on this together.”