YORK could be getting a dockless bike hire scheme like those rolled out in Sheffield and Manchester.

The city council wants to bring in a specialist company to run the programme, which would see hundreds of bikes brought to the city for people to hire via their smartphones.

Similar schemes have launched in Sheffield and Manchester, and a delayed Leeds programme is due to start later this year.

Senior York councillor Peter Dew has confirmed a company already at work in the UK is interested in York, and next week he will be asked to approve a council procurement exercise.

However, he has revealed some reservations after the Sheffield and Manchester schemes were marred with vandalism and bikes being dumped.

Cllr Dew said: “That is the first thing I asked when we discussed this - I don’t want that to happen in York but those concerned think they have got it covered.”

He added: “Many people could benefit from a bike share scheme in York. But it’s important that we build on the lessons learned from other cities to deliver a scheme which benefits the unique characteristics of our city and the needs of the scheme’s potential users.”

He also said the dockless plan - rather than a “Boris bike” style docked scheme - could go ahead without heavy council investment or a risk to tax payers' money.

The schemes use smartphone apps which let people locate, unlock and hire bikes, and council staff believe it would add to the city-wide 'Move More York' campaign to get people more active.

A report prepared ahead of a decision shows officials know there will be some “challenges” - like the likelihood of vandalism and theft, shortage of bike racks and badly parked bikes on the streets.

There will need to be a system for people to report badly parked bikes, and hands-on management to make sure bikes are available at key locations like the station and park and ride sites.

York Civic Trust has echoed some concerns, but the trust’s heritage planning officer Duncan Marks said it welcomed the idea in principle - as with anything that would help solve York’s traffic problems.

Lessons will need to be learnt from “teething problems” elsewhere, he said, but this plan would be better for York than a London-style docked system which would bring clutter to the city’s narrow streets.

Dr Marks added: “Considering how small York’s historic city centre is compared to other UK cities with bike-share schemes, thought will be needed to be given to any bike scheme’s usability, especially for tourists likely wanting to make short distant journeys between the city’s tourist attractions but unfamiliar with York’s largely pedestrianised city centre.”

Cllr Dew will be asked to jointly approve the plans with environment chief Cllr Andrew Waller, who added: “Making sustainable transport as easy and appealing as possible is key to reducing congestion and improving air quality in York.

“As well as investing in quality cycling infrastructure and placing it at the heart of future developments in the city, we need to explore initiatives like this to give more residents and visitors access to bikes.”

The report reveals publicly for the first time that the city was on the brink of a docked bike hire scheme in 2014, but the project was dropped when the operator went into administration.