Bikeshare comes to Brighton – Hills not included

A Big Thing for 2017 will be the Brighton Bikeshare public bike hire scheme. With a three year contract awarded to Hourbike, with bikes provided by Social Bicycles, the plan is to have them up and running by the summer.

Lady riding a Bikeshare bicycle

The Argus ran a fair piece on it, although (not unusually) it was marred by below the line nonsense which afflicts most Argus pieces. One area of comment followed the line that bikeshare schemes wouldn’t work here because Hills, and this perhaps deserves a bit of consideration.

Brighton is a hilly place, its true (though Hove less so), but there is no particular relationship between cycling levels and hills, with some hilly places having good cycling levels and some flat places having very poor bike takeup – for fuller consideration of this, see HERE and HERE.

The thing about our hills is that they are divided by valleys, and whilst not strictly the case, it is broadly true to say that people tend to live up the hills, and stuff happens in the valleys – or along the coast – also flat. So – for example – a cycling Hanoverian will may start their journey with a white knuckle ride down Southover St, but once at the bottom can make head to Shoreham, Patcham, Falmer or Saltdean meeting minimal incline; can breeze around the North Laine, Lanes, Western Road, Kemptown, Hove… similarly flatly. The only substantial hill met on the journey is likely to be on the homeward trek back up into the Hanover heights.

Heres a map of the Bikeshare operational area. Aside from a brief hike up to Seven Dials, all of the bike stations will be in the Brighton flatlands, meaning that residents and visitors alike will be able pick up a bike for an hour or a day, do the things they want to do and leave it at a dock at the bottom of a hill, and mosey on home, to the station or wherever.

 

bikeshare_0

The thing which mostly influences the choice to cycle is not hills of their lack, but how safe people feel to cycle in our city – specifically how safe from collision with motor vehicles do people feel, and this is an aspect which is likely to be more significant.

Although we have some good bits and pieces around – the seafront cycleway, Old Shoreham Road, Lewes Rd (north of Gyratory) – our safe cycle network is patchy at best, and its disjointed illegibility will be a big disincentive for bikeshare use.

There is a solution though. Bricycles supports the Space for Cycling Campaign, which aims to create the conditions where anyone can cycle anywhere.

Cycle-friendly streets are people-friendly streets. We want everyone to enjoy the health benefits, improved air quality and community feel that Space for Cycling can bring – whether you choose to cycle or not.

We are calling on councils to create a network of cycle-friendly routes, so that anybody of any age or ability can enjoy their journey through the freedom of cycling.

To achieve this we have devised a three-point plan for councils to sign up to:

Plan –  Plan a full network of cycle-friendly routes that allow people of all ages and abilities to cycle anywhere for any purpose

Invest – Actively seek the funding to implement the network and invest a minimum of 5-10% of the local transport budget in cycling

Build – Build the network using the most up-to-date high quality design standards

Although our council also supports this campaign, there is – as yet – scant evidence that it has any substantial plans to invest in our network, but perhaps the BikeShare scheme will be just the catalyst needed to take on the task of making Brighton & Hove a truly cycleable city.