THE bike share scheme running in Bournemouth and Poole will be extended into Christchurch after Beryl was awarded a new, larger contract.

BCP Council will subsidise the service in the town, having made the commitment as part of its successful £79 million Transforming Cities Fund bid.

Councillor Andy Hadley, its cabinet member for transport, said demand for the scheme had “far exceeded” expectations.

Beryl first introduced its bikes across Bournemouth and Poole last year and the council has since described the project as an “intrinsic” part of its aims for the conurbation.

A council spokesman said it was now the second largest of its kind in the country, only behind London.

It agreed to subsidise the cost of rolling it out to Christchurch by providing £450,000 as part of its bid for the government’s Transforming Cities Fund.

Following its success earlier this year, the council opened a bidding process for companies willing to take on the three-and-a-half-year project and has now awarded a contract to Beryl.

The council said 275 bikes would be provided from bays across the town, available through the company’s app.

Its co-founder, Phil Ellis, said he was “delighted” the firm would be able to expand its scheme.

This expansion is part of building an integrated, green and sustainable transport network in the area,” he said. “This is more important than ever so we can't wait to get started and offer our service to those who live, work and visit Christchurch.”

Unlike the Bournemouth and Poole scheme, which is funded wholly through its income, the council will cover about half of the initial cost of extending it.

“With a new government strategy prioritising walking and cycling, Beryl Bikes have proved incredibly popular since they launched here,” Cllr Hadley said.

“The extension into Christchurch follows the highly successful bike share in Bournemouth and Poole, where demand has far exceeded expectations, as well as locals telling us they wanted to see Beryl Bikes in Christchurch.”

Work to install bays and bikes will start in the coming weeks.