Gearing up for ‘Boris Bikes?’

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PEDAL power could become the transport of choice for Bicester commuters if a scheme similar to London’s Boris Bikes is introduced.

A bike loan scheme under consideration by Cherwell District Council could link in with forthcoming upgrades of rail services at Bicester North and Bicester Town stations to improve health and the local environment.

The aim of the bike loan scheme is to help learner cyclists or people who have not cycled for some years to have a go without the expense of buying a bike.

Month-long loans would be available to adults living and working in Bicester who drive to work, or those who commute by rail but drive to the station car park.

Councillor Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “Bicester enjoys a flat terrain and with the new train services coming on stream we can really make a go of the train-bike combo.”

A bike, equipment and training would be provided, and participants will need to agree to cycle at least three out of five trips to and from work each week.

Agreed leisure trips could also be included in the total.

Cyclists will have the option to buy their borrowed bike, or a new one of a similar specification.

Bikes would be available at a discounted price or could be paid for through a salary sacrifice scheme.

The bike loan scheme looks set to be launched in the spring next year.

An initial batch of 20 good-quality bikes fitted with good tyres, lights, racks and locks would be made available.

Cycle helmets and wet weather kit would also be provided.

Councillor Lynn Pratt, chairman of Bicester Town Council’s environment committee, said: “It can only be good for the environment if it keeps cars off the road.

“Biking to the train stations is a very good idea. When the eco-town gets under way there could be somewhere up there to pick bikes up and go to the stations.”

A 2005 survey showed many adults have bikes that are not in working order, so a ‘bike doctor’ scheme could be set up to help get cyclists back on the road.

Bike doctor events could also show people how to carry out minor repairs and adjustments themselves. Environmental group Grassroots Bicester has already been offering bike doctor sessions as part of its regular swap shops in Bicester Methodist Church.