Dockless bikes will be a winner in Leeds

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Leeds City Council are set to confirm that they will commence advanced discussions with Ofo to deliver a dockless bike scheme in Leeds. The intention is to trial the scheme for 12 months. The scheme follows a number of other dockless bike schemes in the UK including London, Oxford, Cambridge, Norwich, Sheffield, Manchester and Newcastle.

The scheme follows a model that has become established across the world. A robust cycle frame with a lock through the rear wheel and GPS tracking unit can be parked in any public place. A smart phone app offers a clear indication of where cycles are located and assist with unlocking/locking the cycle. An additional development that is found in many UK cities has been the establishment of recommended parking areas and the introduction of geofences. The former are used to encourage the establishment of groups of bikes, which gives are higher likelihood that bikes will be found there. The latter prevents bikes being taken into areas that have not got established infrastructure (such as other Council areas).

It is a substantial development from other cycle schemes that require users to return their bikes to a docking station such as the Santander cycle scheme in London.

The scheme has a number of benefits

Low entry costs

At 50p per 30 minutes (up to £5 per day), the cycle can be hired and used to cover substantial distances across Leeds. This compares well to other modes of transport, even considering the low entry point for a car parked outside in a free parking space. You don’t have to buy a bike or sign up to a monthly/annual membership scheme. Users require access to a bank card to provide payment.

Availability

This scheme can operate 24 hours per day, with the only limitation being where bikes are available. All of these schemes operate with a team redistributing bikes where necessary.

Flexibility

The scheme offers the ability for you to choose your route and destination, rather than rely on other fixed networks (such as buses and roads) to get you near to your destination. Your journey is achieved in the time it takes you to pedal your route. You can filter and use routes unavailable to motorised forms of transport.


There will be challenges that usually face the introduction of these schemes.

  1. Some of the bikes are vandalised
  2. A number of bikes will be offered a full immersive experience in water (usually a nearby river/canal)
  3. Someone will note the anti social behaviour of some users
  4. Someone will complain that they have been dumped

The operators of these schemes are aware that vandalism and theft are an issue. The incidents will be a disappointing setback but they will be a minor issue compared to the thousands of uneventful rides that enable people to travel around Leeds on a journey that they want at a low price.

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