A TOP cyclist has been drafted in to help kick-start a pioneering “Boris Bikes” scheme at Haymarket station.
Record-breaking Graeme Obree – dubbed The Flying Scotsman after his racing exploits – was on hand yesterday to launch a major innovation at the station’s Bike & Go facilities.
In a bid to get more people to sign up to the service – launched two months ago – rail chiefs have introduced an on-the-spot sign-up option to let busy commuters hop off a train and immediately hire a bike.
In the past, passengers had to apply for a membership card to be sent out in the post – a process which could take a week.
Obree’s involvement comes as ScotRail revealed the service is to be rolled out across ten Scottish stations by the end of March next year, with facilities at Haymarket and Stirling already up and running.
Livingston North, Bathgate, Linlithgow and Livingston South have all been earmarked for the project, which is part of wider plans by ScotRail operators Abellio to bring bike-friendly innovations to the country’s busiest stations.
Obree – who shot to fame when he broke the world hour velodrome record twice in the early 1990s – said the facilities were an “excellent initiative” that had the potential to encourage “more people to see the advantage of using a bike as the perfect solution to cutting congestion in Edinburgh”.
He added: “It’s an extension of public transport – it makes it easier for people to get from A to B. Let’s not forget, also, that cycling a bike is great fun and a very social way to spend time with friends. That’s a win-win for me.”
The Dutch-style Bike & Go resource allows commuters to hire out bikes for £3.80 a day after paying a £10 subscription rate. Such services are often dubbed Boris Bikes after the system set up by London mayor Boris Johnson.
The new system, which officially launched yesterday, will let customers register online – with a password sent out immediately. The scheme’s top-of-the-range bikes boast puncture-resistant tyres, front and rear luggage carriers and seven gears – as well as pedal-powered dynamo lights.
Ian McConnell, programmes and transformation director at ScotRail, said the response at Haymarket so far had been “very positive”.
He said: “This new system really simplifies the sign-up process, and we’re sure it’ll be a big boost for cyclists – especially at a time when Edinburgh streets are particularly busy.
“Bike & Go is ideal for busy commuters or for visitors who are keen to get round the city easily during the festival, as well as being an environmentally friendly option.”