Edinburgh’s Just Eat cycle operators planning electric assisted bikes in 2019
It is widely acknowledged by health experts that a brisk pedal up a steep incline on a bicycle is good for you - but not for some in a city famously built on seven hills.
Statistics have revealed that users of Edinburgh’s bike hire scheme do not really fancy the challenge of some of the Capital’s more punishing rises.
And the operators behind the city’s Just Eat bike scheme have discovered most users appear to hire one to simply free-wheel downhill.
Just Eats say large numbers of bikes are being dropped off in the Canonmills, Victoria Quay and Leith Links areas of the city, which are nearer sea level.
After discovering that some users aren’t exactly pushing themselves, plans are now afoot to bring electric assisted cycles to the city later this year.
The firm is expecting to have 80 stations in place throughout Edinburgh in the build-up to an anticipated busy debut summer season.
Since launching in September, the initiative has provided almost 20,000 rides and has 49 stations around the city.
But there has been an increase in the number of bicycles appearing on social media that have been dumped in locations such as rivers, playgrounds and bushes - particularly in the north of the city.
Operator Serco has revealed that 100 bikes have been reported abandoned in the past five months with the vast majority being recovered.
At least 25 cycles have been seriously damaged while a total of ten have also been stolen in this time leading to police investigations.
Serco said the level of vandalism being experienced in Edinburgh is comparable to its other locations including London and Trondheim and Bergen in Norway.
Just Eat Cycles general manager Charles Graham said: “Since September last year 5,000 unique users have already enjoyed over 19,000 trips on the city bikes since, many of whom depend on the bikes day-to-day.
“We’re appealing to the public to remain vigilant of any anti-social behaviour and to keep sharing images of bikes which may have been abandoned. Local communities around the city have been fantastic in this respect and we thank them for their help.
“Our priority is to minimise the effect any anti-social behaviour has on users and we are confident that the new measures we are putting in place, including the relocation of some stations, will significantly reduce this type of behaviour.
“We’re working with Police Scotland to prosecute those responsible, and with the vast majority of stations covered by CCTV, we will catch those responsible for seriously misusing the scheme.”
Serco feels the scheme has been positively received by the overwhelming majority of people.
It is understood the Bristo Square station is one of the most popular stations, particularly with students.
The firm is determined to push on in 2019 bringing in new features including a pause function for all bikers, which allows users to lock the bike temporarily.
Full details of the plan to bring electric assisted cycles to Edinburgh are also set to be released soon.
By springtime, the firm is expecting to have 80 stations in place throughout Edinburgh in the build-up to an anticipated busy debut summer season.
Chief Executive of Transport for Edinburgh, George Lowder said: “We are committed to seeing the Cycle Hire Scheme succeed in Edinburgh. More people than ever are using the bikes to commute to work and study, or explore new parts of The City. OThe network will continue to grow and more people will be introduced to the benefits of this practical, enjoyable and safe scheme.”