Rural bike scheme to help drive down car journeys in the New Forest

rural bike scheme

Published Wednesday 12 March 2014

Plans are being developed for a rural bike scheme in the New Forest, which will help local and visiting families to cycle rather than drive around the National Park.

The rural bike scheme aims to promote active family lifestyles and help reduce car journeys, congestion and pollution, which threaten many of the special qualities of the National Park. Recent surveys indicate around 86% of New Forest visitors travel around by car.

A procurement consultant has been appointed by the New Forest National Park Authority to find suppliers for about 250 bikes at 20 docking stations in the south east of the New Forest.

The system specification for the unmanned docking stations will allow people to hire a bike with a debit or credit card and drop it back at other docking stations around the south east of the National Park.

The stations, subject to planning consent and related consultation, will be sympathetic to their rural surroundings and will be based on private land close to public transport links, community facilities, attractions and accommodation providers.

Complementing local cycle hire operators, the scheme will allow people to take bikes for short journeys around the National Park. The scheme will create jobs through its operation and maintenance, and improve transport connections between local attractions and businesses.

The scheme has been made possible as part of a £3.57m grant from the Department of Transport announced last August to replace car journeys and support everyday family cycling.

Julian Johnson, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘This rural bike scheme aims to make it even easier to replace car journeys in the New Forest with sustainable means, helping to protect the special qualities of this unique landscape. It will give residents and visitors alike easy access to bike hire whether it’s for a short trip to the local shop or a visit to an attraction.’

Ross Kempson, owner of Brockenhurst-based cycle hire company Cycle Experience, said: ‘We’ve found recently that more families want to leave their car behind to explore the National Park on the network of waymarked routes and quiet lanes. This scheme will complement our existing business, offering visitors and locals the opportunity to rent a bike at their convenience and generally help families see the best of the area on two wheels instead of four.’

The scheme is being developed with support from transport consultancy Atkins and Hampshire County Council.  The National Park Authority is also working with key partner organisations such as New Forest District Council whilst keeping parish councils up to date through quadrant meetings.

Exact locations for the docking stations will be developed after suppliers are appointed in the summer. Planning applications are likely to be submitted in the autumn. If approved, the rural bike scheme will be ready for April 2015.

The rural bike scheme also complements the work of the National Park Authority to encourage 370,000 people travelling to the New Forest to get out of their cars and use sustainable transport by March 2015.

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Notes to editors

In August 2013 the New Forest National Park Authority was awarded £3.57m to replace car journeys and support everyday family cycling, one of four National Parks to benefit from a share of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) £17m funding pot.

The Government money will be match-funded with £2.2m from the private sector and local authorities.

The DfT investment is expected to create about 30 new jobs and generate income for local businesses as well as improve cycling facilities and management for residents and visitors. The proposed projects will be delivered by April 2015 and will promote active family lifestyles, respect the sensitive character of the New Forest and replace an estimated 127,000 car journeys with bike trips every year.

The programme includes:

  • Support for a proposed private sector led family cycling centre adjacent to Brockenhurst rail station with bike hire, servicing, showers, lockers, courses, and visitor information
  • A network of bike docking stations, where people can hire a bike and drop it back at a number of locations around the National Park
  • Developing a pilot Pedal Bus fleet at key attractions in the National Park, where up to eight passengers can help the driver power the ‘bus’ to the next stop as an enjoyable car-free experience for visitors and residents
  • A new grant fund to help tourism businesses, communities and local authorities provide high-quality facilities for cyclists
  • Improvements to signage on existing cycle routes, mainly around the edge of the National Park and which are away from the Crown lands managed by the Forestry Commission.

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect.
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk  to find out more.

Media Contacts:

Hilary Makin, Communications Manager, New Forest National Park Authority

Tel: 01590 646608

Email: hilary.makin@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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