THE BELFAST BIKES SCHEME WAS LAUNCHED IN 2015 – PHOTOGRAPHED MAY 2015
When I visited Belfast back in May 2015 it was fairly obvious that recently launched bike hire scheme was badly organised. Many stations had no bikes and others had lots bikes lying around as they could not be docked. There were also signs of vandalism.
When I visited in 2016 things had not improved.
In April 2017 it was reported more than thirty percent of the bicycles were out of action due to theft or vandalism. Some 210 of the 576 bikes in the fleet (36 per cent) have either been stolen or have had to be taken out of service due to vandalism.
I last visited Belfast in March 2020 and it was fairly obvious that management of the system had improved.
Belfast Bikes, also known for sponsorship reasons as Just Eat Belfast Bikes as is a public bicycle rental scheme which has operated in the city of Belfast since April 2015. At its launch, the scheme, which was then sponsored by Coca-Cola HBC, used 300 Unisex bicycles with 30 stations.
Belfast City Council owns the scheme. The Department for Regional Development (DRD) provided initial capital funding for the scheme as part of their Active Travel Demonstration Projects budget. NSL is looking after the daily operation of the scheme, while Nextbike is responsible for the bikes.
Starting initially with 30 stations, the number has increased to 45, and has expanded beyond the city centre area. This includes two stations at Queen’s University Belfast (the cost of which was covered by the University), one close to the Titanic Belfast Convention Centre, and at the Mater, Royal Victoria and Belfast City Hospitals (the cost covered by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust). Locations in more residential areas (Shankill Road, Duncairn and the new CS Lewis Square) is also a new feature of the expanding scheme.