Boris bikes are coming to Brighton and Hove after a funding agency agreed to put £1.2 million towards the start-up costs of the scheme.
More than 400 bikes will be available for hire from 50 docking stations in an area stretching from Hove Station to Brighton Marina and up to the university campuses in Falmer.
The search for an operator will start straight away amid hopes that the first bikes will be hired in July next year.
The scheme is expected to be run by a social enterprise and to create six full-time jobs, with the training and apprenticeships on offer.
A key condition of the grant – from the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) – is that the running costs will not be subsidised from the public purse.
Brighton and Hove City Council is budgeting about £60,000 towards the setting up of the scheme.
About £230,000 is expected to come from other local organisations including the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
The council said: “Around 46 per cent of households in the scheme area do not own a car. Yet research has shown a main reason people do not cycle is that they do not own a bike – about half of households do not have one.
“It is intended the scheme will help link existing or planned major employment sites and housing such as Circus Street, the i360, the proposed Brighton Waterfront development, Valley Gardens and Preston Barracks – and City College’s main campus.
“For tourists it would provide quick links between the stations, seafront and key attractions, including Brighton Marina. Future expansion could offer access to the South Downs National Park.”
The scheme’s supporters include Brighton University, Sussex University, the Velo Café at The Level, Brighton and Hove Buses, Southern Railway, City Car Club, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, Spire Healthcare, the Regency GP surgery, BioRegional, Kindle Research, Brilliant Noise, Small Batch, Cathedral Group and the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership.
Ian Davey, the Green administration’s lead councillor for transport, said: “It’s wonderful that the local enterprise partnership has agreed to provide over £1 million towards the start-up costs of a public bike share system for the city.”
Councillor Davey added: “The idea has the support of the local business community who recognise the economic benefits it could bring and our partners in health who recognise the health benefits of more active travel.
“We will now work with the LEP to start the procurement process to find the right partners to run a successful system for Brighton and Hove.”
Rachel Cottam, the sustainability lead at the CCG, said: “This is fantastic news for the citizens of Brighton and Hove – and for the local health economy. Exercise really is the ‘magic pill’ – just 15 minutes a day can help prevent heart disease, some forms of cancer, depression and dementia.”
Dr Cottam added: “There is also strong evidence that people who use ‘active travel’ are less stressed and less likely to take time off work but exercise is of value for people of all ages.
“We hope that the bike share scheme will help the people of Brighton and Hove stay healthy.”
Nigel Lambe, the chairman of Small Batch Coffee, the Velo Café and Bold Decisions Consulting, said: “I am delighted that the local enterprise partnership has agreed to invest in a bike hire scheme for Brighton and Hove.
“We have been working on the business case for the hire scheme for over a year and I have discussed the concept with many local businesses. It is clear that the scheme has proved very popular with the Brighton business community.
“It will make Brighton a better place to live and a better place to work and also give further assistance to the hospitality trade by making Brighton and Hove a better place to visit.”
Prices have not yet been decided but they are expected to include half hour for free, as in London and many similar schemes. And the cost of registering is also expected to be cheap enough to make it attractive for students.