Rails for failed bike hire scheme in Reading removed

The ReadyBike scheme was launched in 2014 to allow people to hire bikes for journeys in emulation of the ‘Boris Bikes’ scheme in London.

But the ReadyBikes were packed up after five years in March 2019.

Now steps are being taken to remove the holding ranks for the ReadyBikes in the town centre.

Stephen Graham, posting on X/Twitter, said: “It appears the last evidence of the Reading bike hire scheme are being quietly erased.” Also posting an image of a place where a ReadyBike rank used to stand in Market Place.

Reading Chronicle: The ReadyBike styles in Market Place Reading town centre have been removed recently. Credit: Stephen GrahamThe ReadyBike styles in Market Place Reading town centre have been removed recently. Credit: Stephen Graham

According to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the scheme cost taxpayers £1.2 million to set up with a council subsidy of £196,000.

Other figures from the FOI show the ReadyBikes were seldom used, with 116,538 rental trips being made between June 2014 to March 2019, with each journey costing the taxpayer £11.98.

The news that the ranks have been removed comes amid disappointment from the council as it faces a delay to its project to open a town centre Cycle Hub.

The hub was meant to open in West Street in a unit owned by Primark, but the fashion chain withdrew its offer of a lease of the unit to the council this September.

READ MORE: Primark apologises to Reading council for pulling cycle hub lease agreement

Responding to these setbacks, a spokesperson for Reading Borough Council said: ““Initial set up and operational costs for ReadyBike were paid for by Central Government.

“A decision was made to remove the docking stations but retain the sites for any future schemes, and their removal has been taking place over some considerable time now.”

The spokesperson further clarified that the ReadyBike scheme has been inactive for four years.

After the bikes were put in storage, some were offered to key workers in June 2020, a donation of 50 bikes was made to hotels in March 2021, and a further 50 bikes were donated to small town centre businesses in September 2021.

READ MORE: Questions raised over Reading’s dormant cycle hire scheme 

Regarding the setback for the Cycle Hub project, the council is working to find an alternative site.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked what measures is the council taking to positively encourage cycling in Reading.

The council spokesperson listed initiatives and schemes designed to encourage cycling which include:

  • The Shinfield Road segregated cycle lanes and improved pedestrian crossings which are currently being constructed.
  • The Bath Road/Castle Hill segregated cycle lanes and junction improvements, which will begin construction in Spring 2024
  • Facilitating ‘School Street’ schemes which encourage children and parents to walk and cycle in school. They are currently operational in four locations and a public consultation has recently been undertaken for a further scheme.
  • Bikeability cycle training is available for pupils in primary schools in the borough and, separate adult cycle training.
  • Working with the Sustrans charity  to provide a dedicated active travel officer to work with schools to develop sustainable travel initiatives

The council also has a range of strategic goals for improving cycling in Reading that make up the Transport Strategy 2040 which is currently out for consultation.

You can find information and provide feedback on the strategy on the Consult Reading website, with the consultation closing on Monday, December 11.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre