Having spent millions of pounds on a failed Boris-style bicycle hire scheme in Bath, Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES) is preparing to do it all over again—with taxpayers once again footing the bill.
A TPA supporter in Bath recently spotted in the corner of a local scrap yard the forlorn sight of a pile of nearly new Bath cycle scheme bikes waiting to be crushed—taxpayers’ money being ground to dust. The sorry saga started in 2011 when Boris-Bike-style stands went up at four locations across Bath. After the first week, only 29 people had signed up to use the bikes, making a total of 36 trips. Following further poor use during the next two years the scheme was brought to an embarrassing end by the council. One local resident explained that the scheme ‘was prohibitively expensive for casual use and a hassle to get started with.’
Bath's answer to Boris bikes was part of a multi-million pound package of transport policies in the city, with €4 million coming from the European Commission’s Civitas initiative (paid for by European and British taxpayers). Having admitted defeat and brought the initial contract with an Italian firm to an end, B&NES council is now re-launching the bike scheme with German firm Nextbike. There will be more hire points and cyclists will be able to take their bikes beyond the city limits. Funding for this will come from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, which is yet more taxpayers’ money dressed up as a government grant. When it comes to encouraging cycling there appears to be a never-ending stream of taxpayers’ money to lavish on poorly thought out, underused schemes.
Our sharp-eyed Bath supporter notes that B&NES first failure ‘only convinces those in charge that we just need to spend a bit more to fix the problem.