Move over London, Bigtown has got its own bike hire scheme. Or at least, it almost has. According to the Herald, it was launched on Wednesday, opened by the Scottish Transport Minister and marked with a photograph of him riding happily along Bigtown’s Bike Bypass (which is actually pretty ace) along with lots of smiling people who don’t at all look as though they were part of the official launch party in any way. Or maybe just a little bit. So today, as I had to be in Bigtown anyway, I made a quick detour down to the river to see if I could have a look – maybe even have a go. And lo and behold, when I got to the rack there was only one bike left! They couldn’t all be in the river already, could they? Could it be that people had actually taken some of them for a ride?
Well, it looks as though there’s a difference between ‘launched’ as in ‘getting the minister of transport down for a photo opportunity’ and ‘launched’ as in ‘making the bikes available for the average blogger to use’ and we haven’t quite made it to the latter. The bike, appropriately enough called ‘Eve’, was there, a little wonky, but there were no instructions on how to rent her,* nor any sign that the docking station was working. As I was taking my pictures a man hailed me from his parked car – where he was having his lunch it seems – to tell me it wasn’t quite ready yet. I think he’s a regular in that spot because he saw them putting the rack in in the first place. But as he pointed out there was nothing in the local paper yet, and according to the website none of the hire points are live yet. So we’ll have to be patient a little bit longer.
I asked the chap in the car if he’d be using them once it was up and running, and he sounded quite keen on the idea, so that’s one taker already. And I’ll definitely have a go although I’m usually there on my own bike and to be honest you can walk from one end of Bigtown to the other in about 15 minutes anyway – though that doesn’t stop people driving. I’ll know the scheme’s a success if it gets itself a familiar nickname, the way the Barclays Bikes became Boris Bikes before the first pedal had barely been turned. I wonder what the Bigtown equivalent will be?
I straightened Eve up before I left and gave her saddle a little pat and wished her luck. She’ll probably need it. The scheme might not be live yet but apparently some of the bikes up in the remoter parts of Bigtown have already been providing some recreation for the local youth. Unfortunately though, they were kicking the hell out of them, not riding them.
*although they have managed to put up the self-congratulatory sign naming everyone who funded it. These things are important, you know.