Belfast Bikes to be expanded to city’s hospitals
2 Feb 2016
The hugely popular Coca-Cola Zero Belfast Bikes public share scheme is to be extended to the city’s three main hospitals.
Belfast City Council has approved the proposed expansion to the City, Mater and Royal Victoria Hospital sites. The move has been made possible by a £100,000 grant from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust to cover the capital costs of installing docking stations at the three sites, as well as the first year’s running costs.
The Council has also approved a proposal from the Department of Social Development to fund the capital costs and the first year’s maintenance costs of eight docking stations within three of the Building Successful Communities (BSC) pilot areas - Lower Shankill/Brown Square, Lower Oldpark and Lower Falls. The Council has also agreed a long-term strategy for the future expansion of the Belfast Bikes scheme.
Welcoming the decision, Councillor Declan Boyle, Chair of the Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, said: “We’re delighted how popular the Coca-Cola Zero Belfast Bikes scheme has become in such a short time, with more than 3,000 annual subscribers and nearly 2,000 casual subscribers since its launch at the end of April. The success of the scheme and the development of these latest stations further re-inforces the Council’s decision, along with our partners in the Department for Regional Development, to back this initiative and make Belfast a healthier and more cycling friendly city.
“We are very grateful to the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust for their generous assistance in making this latest expansion possible. The hospital sites are in areas of high footfall, with large volumes of staff and students travelling between the sites on a regular basis. Therefore, we anticipate that the additional stations will prove extremely popular and attract high numbers of users.”
The grant from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust comes from charitable funds that have been granted specifically for non-clinical purposes.
“As a major provider of health and social care it is important that Belfast Trust supports, initiatives which promote a healthy and active lifestyle,” said Belfast Trust Chief Executive, Dr Michael McBride.
“The Belfast Bikes Scheme has proven very popular across Belfast and having bike racks in the vicinity of the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast City Hospital and the Mater Hospital, will provide a healthy and alternative travel option for staff and indeed others who need to travel between hospital sites during the course of their working day. We hope it will also contribute to reducing our carbon footprint.”
The Coca-Cola Zero Belfast Bikes scheme has been developed by Belfast City Council in association with the Department for Regional Development. Minister Michelle McIlveen said:
“I am really pleased that the Belfast Trust and Belfast City Council are able to announce this further expansion of Belfast Bikes. The announcement is timely with the ongoing works that my Department is undertaking to provide safe spaces for cycling in Belfast. These schemes which will be in place by Easter 2016, include a link from the Royal Victoria Hospital site into Belfast City Centre and will give people more confidence to make more journeys by bicycle.
“My Department is working on the draft Bicycle Network Plan, which will include plans for infrastructure measures which will benefit the other Trust sites in the following years.”
Gillian Shields, Community Investment Manager, Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland, who sponsor the scheme, added: “Our investment in Belfast Bikes is part of our wider commitment to help encourage active healthy lifestyles and we hope the introduction of these stations to the city’s three main hospitals will continue to enable more people to integrate cycling into their everyday lives, with the option of a healthier and happier commute.”