Council Plans to Donate Former ReadyBikes to Local Hotels

  • Council to donate 50 redundant ReadyBikes to hotels in Reading
  • Initiative will support the local tourism sector as it recovers from the pandemic

READING Borough Council plans to donate 50 former ReadyBikes to hotels across Reading at zero cost and for use by guests and visitors to the town.

The hotel sector has seen some of the biggest impacts during the Covid 19 pandemic, with lockdowns restricting overnight stays and hotels having lost almost an entire year’s income.

The Council’s free donation of the redundant hire bikes is in support of the local tourism sector and will benefit hotels by providing them with an added value free service for guests and for hotel staff.

For Reading as a whole, the benefit is the addition of a new sustainable travel option for visitors, further relieving pressure on road space and public transport, and supporting the Council’s overarching aim of providing more walking and cycling routes in the town.

150 ReadyBikes have been kept in storage since the bike hire scheme ended two years ago. The bikes have also been offered to key workers in Reading as part of a short-term loan scheme during the pandemic.

This new initiative is the result of an idea formed at the Reading Tourism Group, which represents the interests of the tourism and hospitality sector in Reading, and is chaired by Reading UK.

Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Transport and Strategic Environment, said:

“It has been a hugely challenging period for the hotel sector everywhere, and Reading is no different. By donating 50 bikes to hotels in the town, the Council is making use of a redundant asset which will provide some benefit to local hotels, their guests and their staff during this difficult time.

“The Council is making good progress towards a net zero carbon Reading by 2030 and a big part of that is providing more options for walking and cycling in the town. These aims underpin our new Local Transport Strategy, due to be adopted later this year.

“This small but valuable initiative aligns with those aims.  We hope it will provide benefits to hotel guests by offering them a free, healthy and easily accessible new travel option in Reading, whilst relieving the significant pressure on roads and public transport in Reading.”

Vicky Punchaye, General Manager, Roseate Reading Hotel, said:

“I’d like to thank Reading Borough Council for encouraging this great initiative by offering complimentary bicycles for our guests at The Roseate. We welcome the support  to enhance Reading as a destination for leisure clientele this summer when we reopen on 17 May. There is so much to see and do in Reading which guests can enjoy from a bicycle.”

Nigel Horton Baker, Executive Director, Reading UK, said:

“The Reading Tourism Group has provided a voice to our hard-hit tourism and hospitality sector throughout the pandemic. The Council’s gift of bikes to hotels has come out of discussions in the group and is very welcome.

“The scale of Reading, the ease of access to the Thames and Kennet, the neighbourhoods of Reading and the surrounding countryside, makes Reading a cycle-friendly town. With business visitor numbers decimated, it is vital that Reading’s hotels are able to attract leisure visitors this year.

“Promoting Reading as a healthy and safe outdoor destination will be an important strand of this work which we have already started and will help hotels attract visitors back once they are allowed, post 17 May.”

A Decision Book report on the new initiative can be found at:  https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/documents/s16523/Donation%20of%20Readybikes.pdf

Reading’s ReadyBike bike hire scheme, operated by HourBike, ended in March 2019 when it became non-profitable to operate commercially without a Council subsidy.

Bike technology has changed significantly since the introduction of ReadyBike in 2014. Hire bikes today are smart (with a computer inside) with GPS and make use of a geofencing system that allows controlling where the bikes can be parked.  They are also much lighter in weight. The new generation of bikes are easier for the user to locate, pay, unlock, ride, park and lock. They are also easier for the operator to maintain and address vandalism. There is a noticeable demand for e-bikes, as they appeal to a wider demographic, can be used for traveling further and for the first and last mile. E-bikes are more profitable rentals, though more expensive to purchase and maintain.

The potential to introduce a new public cycle hire scheme in Reading is currently under review. Feedback from potential future operators of schemes suggest that the existing ReadyBikes are not suitable for this purpose. In addition, establishing a new cycle hire scheme in Reading will require a large investment in both capital funding and on-going revenue support in order to make it successful.

Oscar Mortali

For media enquiries about this release email oscar.mortali@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 2301