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E- Bike Share Schemes Rolling Out Across UK

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LONDON, UK – In 2015 the UK government made GBP 700,000 (€ 906,000) available to fund e-bike sharing projects across the UK. Spring 2016 sees the winning bidders start to roll out their schemes.

E- Bike Share Schemes Rolling Out Across UK
UK government made GBP 700,000 (€ 906,000) available to fund e-bike sharing projects. – Photo OxonBike

Town centre e-bikes for short term use, e-bikes for tackling some of the UK’s steepest hills, specially adapted e-bikes for those with a disability, e-bikes for tourists and staff use at a tourist honeypot; all these and more were winning ideas awarded funding and their schemes are now starting to roll out across the UK.

Part of Bikeplus

Sustainable transport charity Carplus managed the bidding and awards process and their website sets out the ethos behind it, “By supporting schemes in a range of different settings, the programme will gather evidence on which people, places and journeys are best served by shared electric bikes.”

The schemes are also now part of Bikeplus, created to represent the UK’s bike share schemes (electric and non-electric). Sixteen UK towns and cities currently have bike share schemes with more on the way. It aims to collect usage data so it can help make bike share schemes more successful.

Some of the successful e-bike share schemes already in operation are:

WeCycle, Hebden Bridge. 15 e-bikes including cargo bikes for hire by local residents and businesses to tackle some of the steepest gradients in the UK.

Co-Wheels, Bristol. 24 e-bikes at two workplace hubs in self-service, smartcard operated bike lockers bookable through the Co-wheels car club website or app, available to employees in office hours and residents for weekends and evenings across the south-west’s main city.

OxonBike Oxford. Linking hospitals, university campuses and park & rides. 16 bikes, bookable via a Smartphone app, allowing you to unlock your bike from one of the 5 docking stations.

Compass Bikes, in several towns and cities across south-east UK. For exclusive, free of charge use by housing scheme tenants for periods of 12-72 hours. The scheme aims to make e-bikes available to the poorest in the community, addressing the issue of ‘transport poverty’.

Outspoken Delivery, Cambridge and Norwich. This commercially-run company has 7 electric assist cargo bikes available under the scheme, 4 of which can be hired by local companies for their own delivery use and the remaining 3 available to the general public when not in use by the firm. Outspoken Delivery works alongside logistics giants such as Royal Mail and TNT.

Journey Matters, Rotherham. Trying to encourage greater use of bikes for all local journeys with loan periods of 6 weeks up to 3 months with a fleet of around 65 electric bikes. Open to local residents who apply for loans via a website or via a ‘Hub’ van which travels around the district. Initial feedback from a Journey Matters spokesperson described the scheme as ‘very popular’.

Co-Bikes, Exeter. 23 electric bikes situated at railway stations, business parks and Devon County Council. Membership is integrated with Co-Cars operations in partnership with Nextbike and First Great Western Trains, with club members gaining a host of other benefits. Billed as ‘one of the first hire-as-you-ride e-bike services in the country’, as it is also open to anyone to simply turn up at a docking station and use a credit card to secure an e-bike.

PEDALL, New Forest. 4 electric assist recumbent style bikes aimed at less physically able users in one of the UK’s most popular tourist hotspots, which includes miles of traffic-free trails in beautiful surroundings.

Isle of Wight Red Squirrel Bikes. 25 bikes for tourists and local government employees located at visitor centres around the island. Day or half day hire.

Plymouth Bike Hire. Adds twenty electric bikes to the public hire network of 60 bikes. Brands include Juicy, Kudos and Raleigh. Hire points are designed to be near popular local traffic-free trails as well as serving the busy city centre of this major historic port.

Eastbourne Campus, University of Brighton. Ten electric bikes at Eastbourne railway station connecting the hilly route between the University of Brighton campus. Aimed at staff and students. An additional 10 electric bikes are being offered on a 1 or 3 month loan basis on campus.

Usage of electric bikes in the schemes will be monitored and further funding for more schemes may be available depending on the results.

The University of Brighton scheme has also provided the material for a research programme ‘Smart e-Bikes’ carried out by University academics. Anne Mandy, Associate Professor at the Centre for Health Research, University of Brighton said “The university’s Travel Plan shows that 43 per cent of staff and 21 per cent of students travel to university as single drivers in their cars. The strategy is to reduce single occupancy vehicle transport.”

Initial research findings are:

  • 70% of participants said they would cycle more if they had access to e-bike.
  • Car mileage of those sampled dropped by 20% across the group.
  • 59% reported an increase in physical activity.
  • The bikes were most popular with groups less likely to be cyclists eg women and older people.
  • The majority of people would like to carry on using an e-bike but price was a major barrier.
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