Today Blackpool launched its on-street cycle hire scheme. For those not fully aquainted with Blackpool I have attached a short film parody.
Blackpool was once a premier seaside resort on the North west Coast of England but has lost its appeal over the years. It is similar to Coney Island in the USA,which followed the same decline.
Report from Guardian Newspaper
First Blackpool borrowed the idea of the Eiffel Tower - and now the city's taking inspiration from Paris' bike hire scheme. Just over a century ago, it happily borrowed the idea of the Eiffel Tower. Now, Blackpool has taken inspiration from a more recent Parisian innovation – mass on-street cycle hire.
In an attempt to change its reputation as a fading seaside resort for boisterous stag weekenders, and to boost local health, the Lancashire town is today launching the UK's most ambitious municipal cycle hire scheme to date.
Modelled on initiatives such as Paris's popular Vélib, where people can use a swipe card to take a bike from street-side depots, the Blackpool version is beginning with 60 brightly coloured cycles. But by next spring – before a much-heralded equivalent opens in London – this will be expanded to 500 bikes at 100 stands.
Funded by the local council, the town's NHS trust and Cycling England, the system will be run by Hourbike, a private company which operates a smaller version in Bristol. Blackpool is seen as particularly suitable given its flat terrain and low levels of car ownership. Renters will be able to use a network of bike lanes either along the coastline or inland.
The town has some of the lowest levels of adult exercise in the country, and the scheme is aimed at local people as well as its 10m visitors a year.
Unlike in Bristol there is no extra charge for one-way trips, to try to tempt people into trying commuting by bike.
The bikes will be available to visitors for a daily fee of £8, while residents or regular visitors can get a swipe card which lets them use the machines for a £1 hourly charge, with the first 30 minutes free.
"It's a very, very interesting scheme," said Philip Darnton, chairman of Cycling England. "The important thing for something like this is knowing who it is aimed at. It's going to be fascinating to see whether this gets local people riding as well as tourists."
The concept of publicly-available municipal hire cycles first emerged as 1974 in the French Atlantic coast town of La Rochelle, but its recent emergence dates back to mid-2005, when Lyon launched its Vélo'v system. This was adopted as Vélib two years later in Paris, which has now expanded to around 20,000 bikes at almost 1,500 street stations and has proved hugely popular, despite problems of vandalism and theft.
As well as Blackpool and Bristol, there are a handful of smaller schemes around the UK, for example one aimed mainly at tourists in the smaller Merseyside seaside resort of Southport.
The London scheme, due to launch next summer as a joint venture between Transport for London and the company Serco, will dwarf all other UK bike hire operations, with an initial plan for 6,000 bikes at 400 "docking stations".
There are currently no other such municipal schemes in the pipeline, Darnton said, although South West Trains has just launched an initiative where commuters into London can hire folding bikes to get from the station to their workplace. "This is the sort of thing I expect we'll be seeing more of in the future," he said.