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Fold-up bikes plan in the works

Published: 8 Apr 2012 17:003 comments

A FOLD-UP bike hire scheme could soon be opening outside Reading Station

Brompton Dock managing director Mark Antwis with Transport Minister Normal Baker at Brompton Bikes in Manchester.

Brompton Dock managing director Mark Antwis with Transport Minister Normal Baker at Brompton Bikes in Manchester.


Manufacturers Brompton is joining forces with First Great Western to install cycle docks outside the busy station. The two parties are meeting for further talks later this month, but Brompton is confident it will have the scheme up and running in the summer.

The bikes would be available to members who have registered online with a credit card. They would use a text message pin system to reserve and hire a bike, with payment taken automatically depending on how long they use it.

Marketing manager Sila Hilal said: "You can use it as and when you like and keep it for as long as you like. Cycling is popular, but sustainable transport is getting more and more improtant.

"With this scheme, people will be able to pick up a bike at the station and use it around Reading or even fold it up, take it on the train and use it to cycle to and from their destination at the other end."

Various memberships would be available - trial, occasional and frequent rider - with a range of tariffs including daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. But Brompton stress the cost and scale of the scheme is still to be decided, as is the location of the docks, which might need to be move after the Reading Station improvements are complete.

Brompton ran a pilot scheme in Guildford, with partners South West Trains, last year and this week opened its second Brompton Dock in Manchester, where it is working with Virgin Trains. The company is planning to launch 13 more - including in Reading, Oxford, Southampton and Bristol - by the end of the year.

Reading Borough Council leader Tony Page said the train operator will have to think hard about storage space for the bikes on its already crowded services if it is going to encourage passengers to carry them on board.

The council is awaiting the outcome of its bid to fund sustainable transport initiatives in the borough, including a bike hire scheme, which could include docking stations at Reading University, Reading College, Green Park, Thames Valley Business Park and other mayor employment hubs. The council is expecting a response from the Government in the summer.

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