The Cycling City project seem to be disowning the project, claiming that the funding of £12,000 from Bristol City Council isn't Cycling City money and that Hourbike is not part of Cycling City. This is quite remarkable since all the evidence is that this was envisaged as being an integral part of Cycling City. The media certainly gave that impression at the launch of Cycling City last year and nothing was said to disabuse them of that idea.
The Post report says nothing about any official launch ceremony and so we might conclude that Cycling City don't want it to have a high profile. Even the inevitable Jon Rogers quote is quite guarded.
"Anything that encourages people to leave the car behind and find a healthy, sustainable way of getting about the city has to be welcomed. This pilot scheme will give us the opportunity to see what kind of demand there might be for a more widespread network in Bristol. We certainly wish Hourbike all the best."Damned by faint praise? But it seems that the promoters of Hourbike have more than enough chutzpah to compensate for the fainthearts elsewhere. Dan Cooper, 28, Hourbike's sole employee in Bristol and nephew of Hourbike boss Tim Caswell (now, now, let's not hear the N word), said
"This can definitely work in Bristol. It cannot fail as an idea."
Mr Cooper goes on to say that there could one day be 2,000 of their bikes on the streets of Bristol (and will it endure for a thousand years too?). But he neglects to mention that the best known automated bike hire schemes, in Paris and Barcelona, were actually launched with thousands of bikes available from hundreds of locations, not just eight hubs that don't as yet even include the central railway station (a minor detail overlooked by the promotional video below).
According to Mr Cooper there are plans to open new hubs, subject to planning permission, in Temple Meads and Temple Quay. One wonders why they need planning permission at these locations but not elsewhere, and why have they been so tardy about progressing a hub at such a key location as Temple Meads. Are First Great Western perhaps lukewarm about encouraging cycling or getting cold feet about their involvement?
If Mr Cooper and family are so confident about the future success of the Hourbike project why have they come cap in hand for public funds to support it instead of raising the funds privately? Surely if it "cannot fail" then it can only succeed and prove a profitable venture? Or is it that no private investor will touch it with a barge pole?
Video summary. Desperation (How to get to the train station in 5 minutes?), Pacification (Ah, an Hourbike Hub), Expectation (This is quick, I'll soon be there), Acclamation (Ah, Temple Meads at last), Realisation (There's no fucking Hub here to deposit the bike!).