WINCHESTER City Council has made arrangements with Bespoke Biking to take over the running of the Bikeabout bike hire scheme.

The scheme, which has been run by the city council for more than ten years, offers bike hires for either half a day or a day. In recent years the service has been run by the Winchester Tourist Information Centre.

The council has taken the opportunity to improve the way the service is delivered by arranging an agreement with local cycle specialist, Bespoke Biking, a non-profit organisation which already runs a bike hire facility at The Brooks Shopping Centre.

Bespoke Biking is set to take on the hiring of the council’s ten hybrid bikes, four Pashley bikes, and two electric bikes, supported by the council for a trial period of two years.

If the trial is successful, the council will hand the bikes over to Bespoke Biking at no cost so they can continue to make these cycles available for hire.

Winchester City Council portfolio holder for transport Cllr Jan Warwick said: “In line with the council strategy, we continue to review our services and look to identify new ways of working which can deliver innovative and cost-effective responses to local needs.

“We hope by having Bespoke Biking taking over the hiring of these bikes it will benefit residents, workers, and visitors and encourage people to cycle in the city.”

Director of Bespoke Biking Heather Evans said: “We are delighted to be working with Winchester City Council on bike hire. Our own bike hire business has grown each year and we are thrilled to be able to expand our fleet and offer bike hire to residents needing a bike, students wanting bikes for a term, or visitors to the city.

“Cycling is such a great cheap way to get around helps people stay fit and helps the environment by reducing carbon emissions.

“At Bespoke Biking as a social enterprise, we aim to help people cycle and then use profits to offer cheap bikes.

“We are hoping that by working with Winchester City Council we will help make cycling more accessible.”