This week, journalists from all over the world have joined forces for the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen. On Monday, over 56 newspapers across the world ran identical front-page editorials calling for action. Hopes of a deal remain high in Copenhagen as the talks open, but whether delegates from the 192 countries represented can agree on how to cut green house gases, as easily as the newspapers decided on a headline, remains to be seen.
Bicycles are everywhere in Copenhagen and they have become an iconic part of the capital of Denmark; 37% of Copenhagen’s inhabitants cycle to work, and to get to and from the Climate Change Conference, world leaders and journalists alike have been encouraged to ‘go local’ and use the free bike scheme. As well as being environmentally friendly, it is considered chic.
“OYBike has been operating ‘under the radar’ in London for some years, ahead of its time in many ways. It’s robust; and tried and tested” said Carlton Reid, Editor of BikeBiz in a carefully chosen 140 character quote.
Launched on 22 September as part of the Walking and Cycling Conference, the Cardiff Smart Bike scheme, run by OYBike and sponsored by Cardiff County Council and the Welsh Assembly Government, hopes to encourage people in Cardiff to get out and about the Welsh capital in a sustainable way.
Joining Reading, Farnborough and London – the OYBike system allows you to hire and return a bicycle via your mobile phone. There are 70 recognisable bicycles that are available from 10 pick up locations across the Cardiff and they can be dropped off at any of the battery powered rental stations after a quick jaunt.
The map below shows the 10 pick-up locations of the OYBikes in Cardiff:
Councillor Delme Bowen, Executive member for Traffic and Transportation said, “Cycling is a brilliant way to get around Cardiff. We have a number of good routes in the city, and I am confident that this scheme will prove to be very popular.”
Since its inception in September, 213 people have hired an OYBike. Far from being chic, not many people have seen, or even heard of the these two-wheeled delights.
One blustery, rainy Sunday afternoon in Cardiff, I thought it would be a good idea to try them out. I failed at the first hurdle. Being a thoroughly prepared journalist, I hadn’t done my research properly. You have to sign up online first.
Off I trudged home with wet trousers and frizzy hair to get involved. At least I managed to take a lovely photo of the clunky yellow and green bicycles, adorned with practical basket beauties so I could spot them easily the next time.
- To hire an OYBike you have to fill out a registration form online and then choose a subscription. For £18 a year, or £5 a week you can use the OYBikes and not worry about thieves stealing your ride. Apparently, they don’t appeal to the light fingered friend.
- Head back into Cardiff and hire one out.
- Switch on the rental unit
- Select “Rent a bike”
- Call the number displayed on the screen
- Press the lock number of the bike you want to hire and cycle away.
- Remember the first 30 minutes are FREE!
- To return the bikes, press the “return bike” button, plug the cable back in and confirm the bike is secure.
Jenny Randerson, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member hopes the scheme is a success, “I think the scheme is great. Although the Cardiff scheme is a small one so far, there is scope to develop it into something really big. I see them as an important part of Cardiff’s designation as a sustainable travel city.”
Cardiff County Council and the Welsh Assembly Government hope that this starter scheme will encourage more people to take up cycling in the city and therefore, cut down on unnecessary journeys in the car.
Jane Lorimer, Deputy Director of Sustrans Cymru said, “Evidence from other schemes shows that schemes like this can be very useful in giving non-regular cyclists their first taste of being on two wheels, which then leads to them cycling more regularly.”
Once the dark, wet and wintry nights have passed and the scheme has been further developed to include more locations and more bikes, locals will become more aware of this sustainable method of transport.
As world leaders sit down to discuss the future of our world in Copenhagen, let us learn from the city of bicycles and make OYBikes an iconic part of Cardiff. We will soon see what else we can learn from Copenhagen.
“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race” – H.G.Wells
The message is clear Cardiff: “On yer bike.”
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- Join my Facebook group and share your stories and comments about the OYBike.
- If you are new to cycling, a good place to start is by visiting The UK’s National Cyclists’ Organisation
- Make sure you get a helmet before hiring out an OYBike, and a bigger bag to put it in.
- Share your routes and find some new ones.
- If you don’t fancy hiring a bike over the winter, another great way of travelling sustainably in Cardiff is car sharing. Helen Glaberson mentions this on her blog.
- But if you still want to drive, try not to do this.