THE formal process for extending the Bournemouth and Poole bike share into Christchurch has been started.

BCP Council has begun advertising for companies willing to take on the scheme, with the aim of it being up and running by the end of the year.

Beryl, which already runs the council’s existing bike share project, has confirmed it will be submitting a bid to allow it to cover the whole conurbation.

Launched in Bournemouth and Poole last year, the council has described the scheme as “successful” and an "intrinsic" part of meeting its priorities.

Earlier this year, cabinet member for transport councillor Andy Hadley, announced it would be extended into Christchurch, subsidised as part of the £98.3 million Transforming Cities Fund budget.

“There’s been good take up of the bikes so far and it’s a really key area of our wider ambitions,” he said.

On Wednesday, the council put the contract out to tender, outlining its contribution of up to £450,000 to subsidise start-ups costs, including the purchasing of bikes and bay marking.

“Council funding is recognised as essential due to a number of factors that will affect the operation of bike share in Christchurch,” its document says.

“This includes a current absence (at present) of supporting cycle infrastructure on principal routes, an older demographic and more scattered residential areas which are less dense than those in both Bournemouth and Poole.”

The council says the contract could be worth £495,000 over its lifetime, based on an average of 200 bikes being used a day and it will require a share of any profit.

In order to time with the end of Beryl's five-year contract in Bournemouth and Poole, it will run until March 2024.

“Securing modal shift by bike, bus, train and on foot is a priority for BCP Council," the document adds. "This follows the declaration of a climate emergency in March 2019.

“Bike share is a key deliverable of the action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, helping to reduce traffic congestion and encouraging a cheap, healthy and environmentally friendly form of transport.”

It is estimated the new contract will be awarded this summer. Beryl has confirmed it will be putting forward a bid.