Bike hire scheme launches in villages around Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge

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A cycle hire scheme has had a ‘phenomenal response’ since launching in villages around Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge, its Co-Founder has said.

Fordcombe couple Tim and Suzy Seddon, both 44, established Countrybike in April, which allows riders to hire bikes at nine rural locations in a similar style to the Santander Cycles in London.

Penshurst Place, The Spa Valley Railway station in Groombridge and The Plough pub near Leigh are just three of points where customers can collect a bike in West Kent and East Sussex.

It is all accessible through smartphone app LINKA Go. Once users have submitted card details to the app, they can receive a QR code, which can be scanned to free a bike to use.

Mr Seddon said despite the project having only been live for two months, it has already proved a success with around half of the fleet of bikes [around 50 in total] being hired at busy weekend times.

‘People found they wanted to cycle but did not have the means to transport bikes and that bike hire was not available,’ he told the Times.

‘It is about encouraging kids to not be on their screens, but to get out there at the weekend. It has been a phenomenal response and we have had really positive feedback.’

It costs £8 for the first hour and then £2 for every half hour after that to hire the bikes, which are built for off-road riding and have 21 gears. All of the bikes have GPS tracking to prevent theft.

Bikes must be returned to the point where they were borrowed from.

Some of the bike collection points are on established routes The Tudor Trail, The Forest Way and The Pilgrims Way. But, unlike the urban Santander Cycles, residents are unlikely to see the bikes for hire in town centres any time soon.

Mr Seddon added: ‘Penshurst Place has been a fantastic spot for us with great footfall.

‘We have seen families with children as young as eight taking bikes out. We are seeing great utilisation at the weekend, although it depends on the weather!’

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