BORIS bikes, bike banks and major international cycling events are ideas set to feature in a 10-year plan for how Yorkshire will build on its hosting of the Tour de France next year.
Councils across the region are working with Welcome to Yorkshire, the body organising next year’s event, to make sure the interest it generates in cycling has long-term benefits.
Ideas on the table include creating schemes similar to the one in London where people can pick up a bike from one part of a town or city and drop it off elsewhere.Rge machines have become known as “Boris bikes” after London mayor and cycling enthusiast Boris Johnson.
There are parallel plans being developed to create a series of bike banks which would operate in a similar way to libraries and allow people to borrow cycles for a set period of time.
Discussions are also taking place over improving the network of cycle routes in the region and making sure they are properly mapped.
Work on how councils build on the Grand Départ is being led by York Council chief executive Kersten England.
She said: “We want more people cycling more often. By that we mean cycling for leisure, taking part in events, but also utility cycling which means using it as your main mode of transport.
“We are already seeing raised levels of participation in cycling. The trick is to keep that going through the Tour and beyond the Tour. We will be the first region in the country to develop a cycling strategy.
“The benefits are absolutely about the health of people, about making our transport networks work better but we would also like to produce the next Mark Cavendish.
“There’s a lot to do but this is a 10-year commitment.”
Ms England said that while there was a strong cycling culture in areas such as York that was not the same in other parts of the region and investments would be made in improving cycle routes to give more people confidence in it as a safe method of travel.
Work will be done with businesses to encourage more of their staff to cycle to work.
Talks are also already underway over expanding the number of mass participation cycling events such as Sky Ride and working with cycling’s governing bodies to host further elite races.
Establishing Yorkshire as a cycling-friendly region could also have benefits for the tourism industry.
Efforts will also go into bringing together the many, often small, cycling firms in the region to find ways of growing their businesses by helping them to work more closely together.
Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity said: “One of things that has always been important is the legacy, both in the lead up to the race and beyond the race. We want to make Yorkshire the European capital of cycling.
“This isn’t just a one-off, there are other international races we want to see happening in Yorkshire and we want to see more people cycling at all levels.”
Mr Verity said London had seen a huge rise in interest in cycling when it hosted the Grand Départ in 2007.
He pointed to the creation of a network of bike banks across the region as one of the key elements he hoped to emerge from the Tour de France legacy.
“We want to be the first place in the world where every child has access to a bike no matter what their background.
“We think it is aspirational, we think it is do-able and we would hope to launch the first of those in a city in Yorkshire by the end of this summer.
“We want the next Lizzie Armitstead or Mark Cavendish to have a go and maybe the fact they have borrowed a bike might just inspire them to bigger things.”
The precise details about how the bike banks would work is still being ironed out.
However, it is envisaged that Yorkshire residents would be encouraged to donate disused bikes to the banks run by bodies including local authorities or schools and colleges.
The bikes would be refurbished and then loaned out over a fixed period in a similar manner to the way libraries operate.