A LONDON-STYLE Boris bike scheme could be launched in Southend as part of plans to re-open a seafront cafe.
The Twenty One cafe, on Pier Hill, closed in 2018 after its operator pulled out, despite Southend Council investing £200,000 in it.
Southend Council and the Focal Point Gallery hoped to run pop up events from the unit during the summer months but the Covid-19 lockdowns put those plans on hold.
Now the council hopes to utilise the prominent unit by offering refreshments and cycle hire once lockdown is lifted.
Chris Smith from Southend Wheelers said: “I think it’s an excellent idea. It’s quite popular now to have cafes and cycle hubs together. Cycle clubs are using cafes.
“There’s a couple in east London with big clubs where they watch big events and have live coverage of things like the Tour de France. It’s a bit like the sports pubs.
“I think it’s definitely got potential and in the climate we are in where we are trying to get people to ride bikes and be more sustainable this is a big plus.”
A Bike & Go hire scheme was launched at Southend Victoria station back in 2013. The scheme was unsuccessful however and was ditched more than a year ago. An e-bike scheme on Southend seafront also failed to catch on.
Paul Thompson, a member of Southend Seafront Traders’ Association said: “It’s a complete waste of time.
“We had the Boris bikes and the electric bikes on the seafront and nobody ever used them. The stands just went rusty.”
Kevin Robinson, councillor responsible for business, culture and tourism, said: “The potential for the Twenty One site to be used as a multi-use facility providing a year round cultural space for a range of community activities is being explored. This includes the potential to offer bike hire during the day but not to provide bike repairs and sales. Twenty One was a cycle-friendly venue, providing lock up and refill facilities, and this is anticipated to continue in any future use.
“No decisions have been made, and councillors received an update on this project in December. Officers continue to work on plans to ensure this prime site has a bright future.”