One of our very first articles was about Mark Smith’s fact finding trip to the Netherlands, where he explored how can commuting by bikes and railways work together. The basic idea is that commuters should be provided bike-friendly facilities near big railway stations, so they can either leave their bikes at the station or rent a bike so they can explore the city on two wheels. The system works brilliantly in the Netherlands and now Abellio, Northern Rail’s Dutch owner brought the scheme to the UK – the Leeds Cyclepoint is a trial, which will hopefully be followed by many others all across the country.

Maps help customers to figure out train connections or gives estimates of the duration of their journey.

Evans Cycles had won the contract to operate the bike parking and bike rental facilities, which are accompanied by a tiny shop. As James, the store’s manager told me, stock is limited and can only cover basic commuting emergencies, but it can accommodate ship2store orders.

The neatly refurbished, round-shaped building can accommodate up to 300 bikes. It is quite sparingly populated with bikes, at the time of my visit there were roughly ten bikes, but the CyclePoint had opened less than a week ago.

Bikes can be stored on the ground floor...

… or if the ground floor is too busy...

… there are plenty of space on the first floor.

It’s hard to estimate the uptake, but my guess is that as soon as the summer holiday period is over by the end of the month, it will be much busier. Until 27th September, there is a pilot period, which offers day parking for free, 25% off bike rental and 10% off bike repairs.

Though the stock is limited and thus can accommodate limited needs, the workshop is properly equipped for more complex repairs.

How will the pricing look like once the pilot phase ended? It will be still very reasonably priced. You can leave your bike there for 24 hours for just a pound. Monthly and annual tickets will also be available, for £15 and £120, respectively. Customers with these tickets will be issued with a swipe card and it would allow them to retrieve their bike outside staffed hours (except between the hours of 00.00 and 06.00).

There are already a couple of customers who use the facility on a daily basis, on this photo, one of them drops his bike off so it doesn't get wet or nicked.

Renting a bike is also pretty cool. Right now, they offer a variety of really good quality hybrid bikes, they range from straightforward urban commuters to more comfy Dutch-style bikes. The charges start from £8 per day and all you need to present is a passport/driving licence and a valid credit or debit card (with £250 credit for pre-authorisation).

One of the many bikes, available to rent.

Given the massive success of such establishments in the Netherlands, it was a no-brainer to give it a go in the UK and as the pricing is very reasonable, I don’t really see a reason why the uptake shouldn’t be pretty high rather soon. So in case fate or your job takes you to Leeds, be sure to give it a go – the Cyclepoint is conveniently located right in front of the Leeds railway station.

I really liked the screen at the till, that displayed train departure times. Small things like this can make all the difference.

UPDATE

The Leeds Cyclepoint has officially been opened yesterday, here are a couple of photos, where the notabilities present posed for a couple of photos:

Norman Baker Transport Minister, Greg Mulholland MP and Fabian Hamilton MP

Norman Baker Transport Minister, Anton Valk, CEO of Abellio, Pim Waldeck, the Dutch Ambassador, and Steve Butcher, COO of Northern Rail

Steve Butcher, Chief Operating Officer of Northern Rail who will be responsible to customers using CyclePoint said, “The ultimate goal is for passengers going to cities and large towns to be able to ride to their station, leave their cycle, travel to their destination and then hire a bike to complete their journey”

UPDATE II