Alliance opposes cuts to Belfast bikes scheme

Alliance Belfast City Councillors have opposed cuts to the popular Belfast bikes, saying a proposed reduction to the scheme would only save a minimal amount.

The Alliance group was the only one of the Council to fight the proposals, which would see the current arrangements of the first half-hour being free changed to only 15 minutes. However, Group Leader Michael Long said it would only result in an annual saving of £15,000 when implemented with other new measures.

“The Belfast bikes scheme has been a great success since its launch and has had a positive impact on making Belfast healthier, as well helping to reduce car journeys in the city centre,” he said.

“Alliance has been hugely supportive of it and we would like to see it expanded into suburban areas as well as the current more central locations. We were therefore disappointed when Councillors from all the other parties on the Committee supported calls to reduce the free usage period from 30 minutes to 15 minutes.

“We believe this will result in reduced usage of the bikes and so jeopardise the success of the scheme. The free usage periods in other cities in these islands is usually 30 minutes in length and we don’t see why we should be different. The reason given by others is it will save money but £15,000 is hardly a large amount in relation to a budget of £150 million especially when there are obvious health and environmental benefits.

“We will be opposing the proposal in the next few weeks leading up to the rates being set and would encourage those in other parties to think again.”

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