Grand Scheme of Newcastle upon Tyne is the operator of the Scratch Bike city bike share scheme created for students on Tyneside and rolled out to all last year. Scratch Bikes are unlocked with text messages to a mobile phone; Grand Scheme uses a handlebar-mounted unit to release a bike lock key.
Scheme members punch their keycode into the handlebar box to release the key. The box contains a GPS chip and an accelerometer so Grand Scheme knows where bikes are and whether they are being moved without authorisation.
The handlebar box takes the place of expensive docking stations used by cycle share scheme such as those in Paris, London, and big cities in America.
Grand Scheme CEO Robert Grisdale said: "We think bike sharing should be accessible to everyone, not just the biggest, richest cities in the world.That's why, with our simpler technology and lighter infrastructure, Grand Scheme offers a brand new approach to bike sharing."
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A university campus, or small town, could start a bike share scheme with as few as ten bicycles. Docking stations are not required; the bikes can be locked to existing bicycle stands.
Users do not have to worry about locating a free docking station at the end of their hire; bicycles can be locked anywhere within a 'geofenced' zone, sensed by the handlebar unit.
Later in the summer, a north eastern university will be the first to roll out with Grand Scheme handlebar boxes on campus-branded bicycles (the bicycles use standard frames and components).
The fully-working prototype of the Grand Scheme handlebar box arrived at the company yesterday. A number of localities signed up to the scheme after being shown photos and mock-ups.
Photo below shows Grand Scheme's CEO Robert Grisdale, left, and chief operating officer Jack Payne.