A MOVE to abandon £2m plans for a ‘Boris bike’- style scheme in the New Forest is ‘disappointing’, says the company set to run it.
Members of the New Forest National Park Authority look set to throw out the almost-completed plans for the scheme at an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday.
As reported earlier this week concerns over ‘major anti-cycling sentiment’ in the Forest and worries over securing sponsorship has led members to call for the scheme – included as part of £3.5m funding from the Department of Transport – to be rejected.
This is despite a procurement process securing the service of company B-Cycle to implement around 250 bikes in 20 different New Forest locations.
The contract was due to be signed in June, but delayed after members raised concerns.
Graham Bright, B-Cycle’s partnership director for the UK and Europe, said in his experience the situation was “unprecedented”.
But he hoped to be able to address members’ concerns at the crunch meeting on Tuesday.
Graham said: “We have not had an opportunity to engage with members.
The things they have mentioned in their reports can be easily addressed.”
He said concerns over sponsorship were misguided as any deals to cover ongoing costs would not affect the viability of the scheme.
Mr Bright, said B-Cycle who are part of bike giants Trek, have established successful schemes across North and South America.
He said bike share is a service that is a very different experience to mass cycling events.
“It is a slow leisure ride for families that want to explore the Forest. Our bikes typically move at a speed of 7mph, similar to a fast runner.
“They won’t be hammering through Brockenhurst.”
A petition urging the National Park Authority to go-ahead with the plans has attracted more than 800 signatures.
And it received a welcome boost after British Cyclist Chris Boardman and Tour de France legend Jens Voigt retweeted a link to the petition.
Last year the German star, who rode his last Tour this summer, took time out to support a charity bike ride through the New Forest for the Epilepsy Society.