New research suggests an Oxford bike hire scheme could cut over 70k car journeys


New research suggests an Oxford bike hire scheme could cut over 70k car journeys
New research suggests introducing an Oxford bike hire scheme could cut over 70k car journeys. Image: Care workers in Oxfordshire using bikes to do home visits.

According to new research, bringing in a new ‘pay as you go’ bike hire scheme in Oxford could cut tens of thousands of car journeys in the city. 

Estimates from the research show there could be as many as 193,000 journeys by bike hire scheme in Oxford if the take up was similar to intiatives in other cities such as London.

The figures show that nearly two fifths of bike hire journeys (37%) could replace trips by car or taxi, reducing congestion and pollution across the city, reducing the numbers of journeys by 71,500. 

Zuhura Plummer, Campaign Director of Oxfordshire Liveable Streets, commented on the research stating: “Getting on a hire bike can be an easy way to get around our city – often quicker than in a car. 

“Lots of people want to cycle but don’t know how to maintain bikes, or have secure bike parking. This solves both those problems and people can get around and get fit for very little money with these bikes.”

Similar schemes exist around the country to provide bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters on a monthly or pay as you go hire basis. 

Other councils also offer free trials for several months of bikes and e-bikes so people can try before they buy, alongside cycling courses to improve people’s confidence and safety on the roads.

In London, there were over 11.5 million annual bike hires from the Transport for London official Santander bike hire scheme, for a population of around 9.6 million.(1)

If the scheme had a similar take up in Oxford, it would equate to 193,000 more bike journeys and 71,500 fewer car journeys each year. These figures could be potentially higher as it doesn’t include the number of rides by private bike hire operators providing ‘dockless’ bike hire.(2)

Alison Hill, Chair of Cyclox, an Oxford-based cycling campaign group, added: “We need to catch up with other cities who have been ahead of Oxford on this. This research confirms what we have been advocating for years: cycling can play a big role in tackling congestion and air pollution.”

Dr Alison Hill, Chair of Cyclox
Dr Alison Hill, Chair of Cyclox

The potential benefits of a bike hire scheme in Oxford extend far beyond reducing congestion and improving air quality. Encouraging more people to choose bicycles over cars can have a profound impact on public health by promoting physical activity and reducing sedentary lifestyles. 

It can also contribute to a more inclusive and accessible transportation system, allowing individuals from all walks of life to easily navigate the city and access key destinations.

Bike schemes could also support businesses to reduce car and van journeys. 

A cycle courier service delivering medication to Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is improving patient care and realising sustainability benefits for journeys previously undertaken by vans.

The scheme involves products including cancer treatments being delivered to wards, day treatment areas, and pharmacies at the John Radcliffe and Churchill hospitals in Oxford by bicycle. Oxford-based Pedal and Post make the deliveries using cycle couriers to get the products to Trust sites.

According to NHS data, the service time improved by 50%. Patient-specific chemotherapy, antibiotics, and intravenous nutrition products are made at Baxter’s compounding facility in sterile conditions. By introducing this service, the time it takes for products to leave Baxter’s compounding facility in Cowley to arriving at the hospital site has halved.(3)

Chris Benton, Managing Director at Pedal and Post, said: “This demonstrates how moving to emission free courier services can actually improve patient care while also tackling the climate emergency, promoting active travel, improving local air quality, and congestion.

“Carers providing support to adults in Oxfordshire can also benefit from the use of ebikes free of charge to reach county residents and conduct care visits more quickly and efficiently.”

Care Outlook, a service commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council, provide care as part of the county council’s Home First initiative, and has initiated the ebikes scheme.

The option of cycling is available to care workers in the city of Oxford and minimises time wasted in traffic and the delays this can cause – enabling them to provide better care to residents. 

It also opens up work to those who do not have a driving licence or access to their own vehicle.(4)

(1) London’s iconic Santander Cycles hire scheme sees yet another record-breaking year in 2022 – Transport for London (tfl.gov.uk). Extrapolated for Oxford, that would equate to approximately 193,000 journeys every year (Oxford population – 162,000 0.016% of London population – 9,648,000)

(2) 37% of those who hired a bike would have made their most common bike share trip by car (as driver, passenger, or by taxi or hire vehicle) had bike share not been available. Therefore 193,000 bike hire journeys could equate to around 71,500 fewer car journeys 644679f0f1a12cebdfca2390_CoMoUK Annual bike share report UK 2022.pdf (webflow.com)

(3) Pedal power drives improved service and greener deliveries – Oxford University Hospitals (ouh.nhs.uk)

(4) Homecare workers to reach residents quicker by electric bike (oxfordshire.gov.uk)

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