We recently reported that the New Forest could be getting a cycle hire scheme similar to London’s Boris Bikes in this article, but it has now been announced that the New Forest Park Authority has rejected the plans.
Strong opinions have been voiced for both sides of the debate, with significant support for the bike scheme to be implemented. Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman backed the scheme and encouraged supporters of the idea to sign a petition, which gathered over 2,000 signatures.
Opponents of the scheme have also been working hard to get their views across to the New Forest Park Authority, recommending that the organisation reject the plans because of insufficient evidence that the scheme would be “financially sustainable or receive sufficient local support”, as reported in this BBC article.
Risks outweigh benefits
Despite the petition and celebrity support for the cycling scheme, the New Forest authority decided that they would not go ahead with the plans, reasoning that “the risks of setting up the scheme now outweigh the benefits.”
Had the scheme been given the go ahead, around 250 bikes and 20 docking stations would have been set up across the New Forest. The idea behind the scheme was mainly to reduce traffic in the area, but it also would have benefitted holidaymakers. Had the scheme been accepted, the bikes would have been perfect for those staying in cottages in the New Forest area, who would have access to a quick and easy way to hire bikes.
Although the New Forest Park Authority have rejected the plans, they may have cause to reconsider following criticism from a number of high-profile people and organisations. The Campaign to Protect Rural England suggested in an article from The Guardian that the authority may be breaching its duty to promote public use of rural spaces, whilst British Cycling have said the decision is a “disappointing one” and that such cycle schemes are “perfect for a national park to help enhance the experience for all visitors.”