New Forest cycle hire scheme could be scrapped despite £2million of government funding

Anti-cycling campaigners in the New Forest could remarkably help scrap plans to launch a £2million Government-funded bike hire scheme.

A petition to overrule the impending suspension of the sponsored scheme has already received over 1,000 signatures.

The family-friendly cycle hire, similar to the ‘Boris Bikes’ in London, was set to open in April 2015 after the New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA) received £2million from the Department for Transport, with a further £1.57million being awarded.

However, despite the 20 electronically-controlled hire stations generating more than 30 new jobs and replacing a predicted 127,000 car journeys each year, locals appear to have halted the go-ahead.

On June 26 a members’ task and a finish group was set up in the wake of a NFNPA meeting and proceeded to unanimously recommend that the National Park Authority postpone the scheme.

The funding needs to be spent by the end of March 2015 and an extraordinary meeting has been called for Tuesday (August 19) to debate the matter.

Those against the hire bikes cite the “financial viability of the scheme”, a lack of “sufficient local support” and safety fears.

Forest Cyclist, the name of the person who set up the petition, says that the Boris Bikes – which would be the largest of its kind outside an urban setting in the UK – have already decided on a preferred supplier and that it should be given the go-ahead to encourage a “healthy lifestyle, lessening car journeys, improving the environment and protecting local wildlife.”

It is not the first time that the National Park has been at the centre of a cycling storm with sportives in the area frequently being sabotaged over the past few years.