A CALL has been made to bring a public bike hire scheme to the city to build on the surge in interest in cycling during the lockdown.

Councillor Mel Allcott, who said she was “dismayed” by the county council’s recent bid for government money to support cycling, has called for a bike rental scheme to be put in place in Worcester and the rest of the county to build on the spike in people using bikes during the lockdown.

The Liberal Democrat councillor, who represents the city’s Claines ward, said the interest in cycling during the coronavirus lockdown had made a positive out of a negative and it was a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to improve facilities.

“Covid has changed our method of transport and the increase in cycling and walking is a positive out of the negative,” she said.

“We must build on this, a once in a lifetime opportunity, for the county.

“We see a public bike hire scheme, with pick up and drop off points in towns and cities, as a way forward. Offering flexible and affordable cycle hire will transform the local commute.

“Such schemes operate successfully in many cities and I see no reason why they cannot happen in our county.

“We also see electric bikes, purchased through a discounted scheme, as a way forward. In particular, providing a safer method of travel across the countryside, electric bikes enable a wide variety of users to navigate all manner of inclines and descents.

“Cycle to work schemes exist for many employees already, tax exempt, so lets extend this to electric bikes.

“I am calling on the Conservative administration to aid green recovery in the next bid and to support cycling.”

Worcestershire County Council was awarded £135,500 from the Department for Transport’s active travel bid to support several cycling and walking routes - half of the £271,000 it initially asked for.

The announcement the council would only be receiving half of the money came after Cllr Alan Amos, the county council’s cabinet member for highways, said a “full, extensive and exciting” bid had been prepared. The news angered many who criticised the council for lacking ambition.

Cllr Allcott said the failure by the council to at least secure all the funding showed it was “well and truly wedded to the car.”

“The city council is looking to be carbon neutral by 2030 but without the support of the Conservative-led county council this will not happen,” she said.