Bike hire scheme approved at committee

A bike hire scheme which would be 100% privately-financed was today approved at committee which will help increase transport options and encourage less use of cars for residents and visitors.

The report to committee said the next move will be to hold an operators’ day, to gauge interest from private firms before putting the scheme out to market.

The Scottish Household Survey in 2017 revealed that 27% of homes in Aberdeen do not have access to a car and 69% do not have access to a bike. The report said therefore, a city-wide bike hire scheme would help increase the transport options available for residents.

The committee report said an options appraisal based on Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) was carried out, and the resulting report suggested Aberdeen could support 32 locations averaging eight bikes per station. Estimated capital costs from £1,500 to £2,500 per bike for the bikes, docking stations and installation rising to £3,000 to £4,000 per bike where electric bikes are used.

Operational costs would vary depending on several factors including the scale of the bike hire scheme and the duration of contract, typically from £600 to £1,000 per annum, per bike. This would mean that an Aberdeen Bike Hire Scheme could have capital costs between £384,000 and £640,000 and an operational cost between £153,600 and £256,000. Edinburgh has implemented 9% of all bikes being electric so, was Aberdeen to adopt something similar, this would cost an additional £34,500 in capital costs. The report said a variety of options including sponsorship, government grants and membership revenues have been used by other schemes.

Three potential types of schemes were examined – 100% public, 100% private, and a public/private partnership. Scoring was carried out and found a 100% private scheme performed well, and this model is similar to what ACC already does with Co-Wheels car club.

As part of the process, officers approached three other Scottish cities – Edinburgh, Stirling, and Dundee, to better understand the models they implemented. While all three cities had launched procurement exercises to invite companies to bid to run their cycle hire schemes, both Edinburgh and Dundee stated that the scheme must run at zero cost to the Council (the private model). Both cities had been successful in attracting an operator with Edinburgh launching in September 2018 and Dundee set to launch by October 2019. Edinburgh and Stirling’s schemes have a mixture of standard pedal and electric bikes while Dundee’s is fully electric.

The 32 locations the study suggested for a bicycle hire scheme are at Union Street – Music Hall, Broad Street – Marischal College, Guild Street – Union Square, Market Street – Aberdeen Harbour/Union Square, Esplanade North, Esplanade South, University of Aberdeen – High Street, St Machar Cathedral/Old Aberdeen, Seaton Park/Hillhead Student Accommodation, Robert Gordon University – Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University – Riverside East/Scott Cassie Circle, Aberdeen Art Gallery, Gallowgate – North East Scotland College, Spring Gardens – Student Accommodation/North East Scotland College, West North Street/Mealmarket Street, Skene Square – Woolmanhill Student Flats/Rosemount Halls, Westburn Road – Victoria Park/Westburn Park, Westburn Road – Aberdeenshire Council/Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Hazlehead Park, Duthie Park/Deeside Way, Wellington Road/Craigshaw Drive, Holburn Street – Crathie Student Village/Deeside Way, Aberdeen Sports Village, King Street, Bridge of Don Park and Ride, TECA/Bucksburn, Queen’s Road/Viewfield Road – The Gordon Highlanders Museum, Dyce Rail Station/Formartine & Buchan Way, Charleston Road North/Wellington Road / Cove, Kingswells Park and Ride, Craibstone Park and Ride, Aberdeen Airport, and Aberdeen South Harbour.

The report said some of the potential locations are more than five miles from the city centre and may be located too far out to be attractive to many but they were included as they provide integration with key transport hubs, as well as leisure trip attractors including TECA and the Formartine & Buchan Way. It was recommended that ebikes are considered for these further-to-reach stations to encourage usage.

Once operational, the recommended scheme would be expected to run at zero net cost to the City Council although there would be significant amounts of staff time to be spent on the initial organising of the scheme and there would also need to be ongoing liaison between the council and the operator.

The bike hire scheme is part of the European-wide Civitas Portis transportation project, which is worth £3.2million to the north-east led by Aberdeen City Council, and involves a consortium of council, university and private partners aimed at improving travel in the area.

The partners for the project also include Aberdeenshire Council, Nestrans, The Robert Gordon University, the University of Aberdeen, and Aberdeen Harbour Board.

Civitas Portis is aiming to make a positive impact on five European port cities - Aberdeen, Trieste, Antwerp in Belgium, Constance in Romania, and Klaipeda in Lithuania.

Civitas Portis has received 100% funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, and it started on 11 September 2016 and finishes on 31 August 2020.