Belfast Bikes celebrate first birthday
27 Apr 2016
The Coca Cola Zero Belfast Bikes scheme celebrates its first birthday today (Wednesday), following a successful year that saw the people of Belfast take Northern Ireland’s flagship public bike scheme to their hearts.
Since the initiative was launched on 27 April last year, usage has grown steadily with more than 191,000 journeys undertaken by the scheme’s almost 6,000 annual and casual users. The bikes have travelled estimated 174,000 km – a distance equal to four times the circumference of the Earth.
Commuters will awake this morning to festively decorated docking stations in celebration of the scheme’s success, and bike users will be gifted with saddle seat covers and a Coca-Cola Zero to mark the occasion. The scheme’s first anniversary also will be marked with a special lunchtime birthday party, from 11.30am – 1.30pm, when Belfast Bikes users are invited along to share some cake and enjoy some music and some suitably themed entertainers who will be on hand to demonstrate their skills on unicycles, penny farthings and miniature bikes.
Belfast Lord Mayor, Arder Carson, said: “The bike share scheme has enjoyed a hugely successful first year in operation. The popularity of the scheme clearly shows that the Council were right to back this sort of transport in the city centre.
“As a result of this civic leadership, Belfast is a lot more cycle friendly than it was in the past, and its reputation as such can only be enhanced by the ongoing and planned future investments in the city’s cycling infrastructure, helping us to reduce vehicular traffic, boost the health of our people and add to the friendly relaxed European atmosphere in the city.
Andrew Grieve from the Department for Regional Development Cycling Unit added: “With an average of over 500 bicycle rentals each day, the number of people using the bicycle as a healthy, convenient and enjoyable way to travel within the city continues to grow. The availability of this scheme together with the new bicycle infrastructure in the city centre will help more people to have the freedom and confidence to travel by bicycle for everyday journeys.”
Matthieu Seguin, General Manager of Coca-Cola HBC in Ireland and Northern Ireland said: “Our investment in Coca Cola Zero Belfast Bikes is part of our commitment to encourage active healthy lifestyles. We are proud to have played a part in the success of the Belfast bike scheme over the past year, helping more people to integrate cycling into their everyday lives.
“Reaching over 190,000 journeys in just 12 months is a fantastic achievement, and is testament to how well the bike scheme has been integrated into the fabric of Belfast City. As the summer season approaches, I urge more people to consider signing up to the scheme, availing of the option of a healthier and happier commute.”
Gordon Clarke, Director of Sustrans Northern Ireland, concluded: "We are delighted with the success of the Belfast Bikes which shows the appetite there is in the city and beyond for cycling. Belfast City Council and the DRD are to be commended for this visionary initiative which has certainly created a better place for people to work, live and move in.
"We were involved with providing cycle training when the scheme launched and would encourage anyone who hasn't been on a bike for years to get some training. Let's hope lots more commuters get on a Belfast Bike during the Sustrans Challenge in May."
There are currently 3,500 annual subscribers who pay £20 a year, and around 2,400 casual users who pay £5 for three days’ use. Users can register for the scheme by telephone, online or via a Smartphone app. After registration, the first 30 minutes of bike use is free of charge, which makes Coca Cola Zero Bikes ideal for short journeys around the city.
There are currently 33 docking stations and 330 bikes. Further expansion is planned this year to three hospital sites and six community areas. Stations at the City and Royal hospitals are due to be installed in late May, with the other stations scheduled for installation later in the summer. The Council is developing a strategic plan for further expansion of the scheme.
While the bikes are available for hire 365 days a year, from 6am until midnight, the majority of journeys on Belfast Bikes occur on weekdays (Monday to Friday), with Thursday being the most popular day for Belfast Bike journeys.
The average rental time is just under 21 minutes, with the average distance travelled per journey being 0.91 km.
The Odyssey/Sydenham Road docking station is the most popular for rentals and returns, while the most popular journey is from Central Station/Mays Meadow to the Gasworks, along the Lagan Towpath.