City bike sponsor deal hard to swallow for health lobby

Just Eat is set to sponsor Edinburgh's cycle hire scheme.
Just Eat is set to sponsor Edinburgh's cycle hire scheme.
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BOSSES of Edinburgh’s first street cycle scheme have left a bitter taste in the mouth – by naming them after a takeaway delivery company.

Online food order firm Just Eat has secured naming rights from its launch this month after agreeing to sponsor the project for three years.

Operators said the deal means they can deliver the bikes at no cost to the taxpayer – but some questioned the multinational’s fast food connections.

Green Councillor Gavin Corbett canvassed opinion over potential names – with suggestions including Beaumont Bikes, Begbie Bikes and Barry Bikes.

“I have to say that Edinburgh residents have shown more imagination than the cycle scheme operators,” said Cllr Corbett.

“‘Just Eat Cycles’ says nothing about Edinburgh and everything about corporate advertising. Others might argue that fast food advertising and a cycle hire scheme seem odd bedfellows.

“The silver lining is that most existing schemes in other cities end up with popular names that defy the hope of corporate advertisers.

“I’m confident that Edinburgh residents will take one look at Just Eat Cycles and come up with their own name. My vote is for Barry Bikes!”

Lib Dem Councillor Kevin Lang added: “The bike hire scheme is such a great initiative.

“However, it seems utterly bizarre that a major takeaway company would be chosen to sponsor something designed to encourage and promote healthy and active travel in the city.”

An initial 200 branded Just Eat Cycles will be introduced from September 17 at sites across the city, increasing to 1,000 bikes by the end of the year and more to follow in 2019. The sponsorship deal was also heralded for keeping rental levels down to £3-a-day for hourly shuttle rides across the Capital.

Alongside the sponsorship, Just Eat will also support the scheme’s marketing to get more riders on the cobalt blue Pashley bikes.

Welcoming the sponsorship deal, Ben Carter, UK marketing director at Just Eat, said: “We’re thrilled to be the new sponsor of Edinburgh’s new cycle hire scheme, which will be a great new way for residents and visitors to get around the city.”

Outsourcing giant Serco is delivering the cycle scheme for Transport for Edinburgh.

Jason Holtom, Serco’s director of leisure services, said: “We’ll be working closely with Just Eat on this exciting project which will actively promote cycling as a fun, healthy and efficient transport alternative for getting around Edinburgh.”

The Just Eat Cycles will use innovative technology including a hybrid lock used on similar schemes in Oslo and Bergen for extra security.

George Lowder, chief executive of Transport for Edinburgh, said Just Eat’s support over the next three years will be invaluable in the roll-out of the Edinburgh Cycle Hire Scheme to residents, visitors, commuters and students.

He added: “We’re delighted that Just Eat have been selected as official sponsors and look forward to collaborating with them as we grow the scheme across Edinburgh.”

andy.shipley@edinburghnews.com