Creating new cycling opportunities with Bikeabout

Basic Information


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In Winchester’s Bikeabout scheme, bicycles were loaned free of charge to commuters, residents and visitors, new cycle racks and route signs were installed, and cycle path maps were produced and distributed.

Implementing sustainable mobility

Before the MIRACLES project, efforts were already being made to increase the level of cycling in Winchester, in terms of modal split and number of journeys being made by bicycle. The County Council had been working with Winchester Cycle Forum to expand the Winchester Cycle Network and ensure the reallocation of road space to cyclists and pedestrians. MIRACLES aimed to build on this work.

The major initiative within this measure was the innovative Bikeabout scheme, focused on continuing improvements to the cycle network throughout the city.

The specific objectives were to:

  • increase public acceptance of cycling; and
  • stimulate the use of sustainable transport by residents and tourists.


The Bikeabout scheme offered members of the public free loan of bicycles. Users paid a one-off registration fee and could then borrow a bicycle as often as they liked, at no additional charge, for up to 24 hours at a time.

The scheme was piloted early in 2004 at the University of Winchester and was officially launched during Bike Week in June 2004.

By the end of the project Bikeabout was operating from four locations, including the original pilot site at the university and a site close to the railway station. As a result of consumer demand, additional nodes at St Catherine’s Park and Ride and Winchester Tourist Information Centre were introduced in 2005.

Fifty MIRACLES-branded bicycles were distributed between the sites. During full operational service, two full-time operators were employed six days a week to oversee the railway station compound where the bikes were maintained. Operational hours were reduced for the winter, reflecting the decrease in consumer demand.

To complement the Bikeabout scheme, improvements were made to cycling infrastructure and information. Over 200 secure bike stands were installed around the city centre. Where possible, signing was also improved to indicate safe routes linking various public transport terminals, leisure sites, large employers and educational establishments. A pocket cycle map was produced and distributed via information centres, community forums, at sustainable transport events and through the Bikeabout scheme.


Bikeabout users were fairly evenly split in terms of age, gender and journey purpose. Some 83 percent of scheme members rated the scheme as generally good or very good.

Travel diaries indicated that average trip length was 4.3 km, with 57 percent of journeys being round trips. At peak times, almost all of the bicycles were in use at any one time.

A total of 38 percent of the public were aware of the Bikeabout scheme and 66 percent generally agreed with it, while 28 percent of members of the scheme stated that they did not have access to another bicycle.

Cycle parking surveys showed the peak number of cycles parking in Winchester increased by 46 percent between 2002 and 2005. This demonstrated that the potential benefits of the Bikeabout scheme were being realised, with some evidence that scheme members were switching from the private car to a Bikeabout bicycle.


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