Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has set out its plans for its soon to be launched Greater Manchester cycle hire scheme.
The 24/7 Bee Network Cycle Hire Scheme, phase one of what will eventually be a region-wide offering, will be operated by micromobility company Beryl and will consist of an initial fleet of 1,200 pedal bikes and 300 e-bikes. All the machines will carry our yellow livery and signature bee, making them easily identifiable for people across Manchester, Trafford and Salford.
The ‘ambitious’ network will be one of the largest docked systems outside London and will give hundreds of thousands of people an affordable, convenient and quick way to get around.
The scheme is part of Greater Manchester’s plan to provide a fully-integrated public transport system – the Bee Network– and become carbon neutral by 2038.
The new map outlines the zone where residents will be able to pick up and drop off hire bikes across Manchester, Salford and Trafford.
A closed trial of 30 Bee Network Bikes – docked near the University of Salford – will commence from November 3.
Another 250 bikes will be added to the fleet around the University of Salford, Media City and along Oxford Road from November 18 for the general public to use.
By June 2022, total bike numbers will be ramping up to 1200 pedal bikes and 300 e-bikes, and more than 200 docking stations across the zone. The first cohort of docking stations will be installed from October.
Docking stations will typically be between 300-500m apart, ensuring that up to 198,000 residents are never more than a five-minute walk from a Bee Network Bike.
The areas of Manchester, Salford and Trafford have been chosen because of their large resident population, high numbers of visitors, proximity to attractions and a high propensity to cycle amongst groups such as students.
Beryl, the scheme’s operator, has worked closely with key local stakeholders to ensure docking stations are in locations that are convenient for pedestrians and all other road users.
The Bee Network Bikes, including e-bikes, will be available to hire via a mobile phone app. People simply find a bike at one of the docking stations, and unlock using the app. Cyclists can then ride to their destination and use them as they want, provided they are returned to a docking station.
Under the initial proposed pricing structure, pedal bikes will cost 50p to unlock and 5p per minute to use, while e-bikes will cost £1 to unlock and 10p per minute to use. This means that a 20 minute journey on a pedal bike, once unlocked, will cost £1.50.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “We’ve worked hard with our supplier to ensure the GM cycle hire scheme is affordable and accessible for residents to use. In fact, we have reduced the tariffs, making our pedal bikes brilliant value when compared to similar schemes in the country.
“The first Bee Network Bikes, with our signature Bee emblazoned on the side, are going on the ground later this year and we are very excited about our residents giving them a try.”
The locations of all the docking stations will be confirmed in the coming months. Plans for a phase two should see the scheme expand further out of the regional centre, said TfGM.
Chris Boardman, Cycling and Walking Commissioner for Greater Manchester, said: “Our ambitious cycle hire scheme is vital to the success of our network as it provides tens of thousands of people in Greater Manchester with an affordable, convenient, non-polluting transport option.
“Current figures show that up to 75% of households in Greater Manchester do not have access to a bicycle and this scheme brings us a step closer to changing that.
“We are determined to build a truly world-leading sustainable transport system in Greater Manchester and I’m pleased that the hire zone in our first phase will reach so many neighbourhoods in the city-region.”
Beryl CEO, Philip Ellis, who also operates cycle and scooter hire schemes in Watford, Hereford, Bournemouth, Norwich, and the Isle of Wight added: “Our existing schemes around the country provide thousands of people with access to high quality bikes and e-bikes, and we can’t wait to start rolling out the service in Greater Manchester.
“Today’s announcement on the zone map and pricing is an exciting step towards that, and it will help to give people an idea of how the scheme will fit into the growing transport network.
“Journeys taken on the Bee Network Hire Bikes will help to improve the local environment, reduce congestion, and will be an enjoyable way for people to travel through Manchester, Salford and Trafford.”