A review of the popular but embattled Coca-Cola Zero Belfast Bikes scheme will see a major shift to the south of the city at the expense of less popular city centre docks.
Five of the public hire bicycle docking stations will be removed from the existing scheme layout. The footprint of the Belfast Bikes system is concentrated in the centre of the city, which crucially lacks a major resident population. The move is aimed at generating more journeys and subscriptions from commuters.
The first of the stations to be moved is East Bridge Street / Stewart Street, which will cease operation today. This docking point has attracted significant vandalism over the last 36 months, being forced out of operation even before the scheme launched in April 2015.
Four other stations will also be removed:
- Winetavern Street
- Dunbar Link
- Writers’ Square
- North Street
“These stations are also in close proximity to alternative ones, and therefore will not create gaps in the network and should not be a great inconvenience to users of the scheme.”
Belfast City Council
The stations will be moved to new locations. Three of these will be on the Ormeau Road, around:
- Ormeau Bridge / Ormeau Park
- Ulidia Playing Fields
- Rosetta Roundabout
@Belfastbikes Ormeau Park crying out for a bike station – it would give me 30mins of my life back everyday 🙂 pic.twitter.com/1LKTaWaoVc
— The Nordic Nordie (@pinkpeugeot) April 8, 2016
The other new station in South Belfast will be at the Stranmillis Roundabout, right at the end of the on-road separated cycleway along the Lagan.
The fifth relocated station will be at Catalyst Inc. in the Titanic Quarter, extending the reach of the most popular branch of the scheme by user journeys.
Our most popular stations in September for renting and returning combined were:
(3) Corporation Square pic.twitter.com/OuqkO5UnL9
— Belfast Bikes (@BelfastBikes) October 17, 2017
“The new locations have been identified through feedback from the Belfast Bikes survey and from scheme users, as well as requests from the public. They also are in areas of high residential density or footfall, for part of a supporting network and are in close proximity to the existing cycling infrastructure.”
Belfast City Council
Come on @BelfastBikes when is Ormeau/Ravenhill Rd’s getting🚲’s @little_pengelly @newbelfast what you think? Prime location #accesstothecity pic.twitter.com/Egzuf9GjOz
— Matt Mackey (@matt_presseye) October 15, 2017
It caps an autumn of change for the Belfast Bikes scheme which has also moved its popular Arthur Street docking station due to building work.
Our Arthur Street station has moved due to construction in area. Now outside located outside @JackWills pic.twitter.com/BCa3VpQs80
— Belfast Bikes (@BelfastBikes) October 20, 2017
Bikefast welcomes this long-awaited and sensible move for Belfast Bikes into the heartland of cycling in Belfast.
The vandalism issues and associated decay of service due to the loss of so many bikes have weakened the scheme. This should begin to set it on the path to greater numbers of subscribers and a new vein of commuter usage.
This will present challenges to the operation team in terms of tidal rebalancing of bicycles to meet daily demand, but the CS Lewis Square extension will have provided excellent experience.
Ormeau was always the natural choice for expansion as the highest concentration of cycling commuters is based in surrounding wards. This in part is founded upon the traffic-free routes along the Lagan corridor into the city centre.
It's official – Ormeau Bridge is Belfast's busiest cycling junction at rush hour! More infra! More @BelfastBikes! https://t.co/OT6DgimRcw
— NI Greenways (@nigreenways) June 22, 2017
This is essentially a rebalancing exercise, and Belfast City Council will want to see many new subscribers coming on board from the Ormeau and Stranmillis areas. True expansion across the city, of brand new stations and rental bicycle numbers, many depend on the success of this move.