Evening News reporter in exclusive preview of Just Eat Cycles in Edinburgh
Having ridden bikes when exploring cities in Europe such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen, I had always wondered why Edinburgh hadn't adopted a similar scheme.
The Capital has a rich heritage and culture which extends past the reaches of the city centre. The city has a fantastic public transport infrastructure, but the option of cycling will be a welcome addition for residents and tourists alike.
Starting at just £1.50 for a single journey, users can choose to hire bikes for an hour, day or an annual membership (£90) using a simple smartphone app.
Just Eat Cycles, named after the bike’s new takeaway delivery sponsor, is to launch on Monday with 200 bikes across 19 different locations across Edinburgh including Bristo Square, Waverley Bridge, Fountainbridge and Charlotte Square.
When I arrived at the City Chambers to test the bikes ahead of the launch I was eager to establish two things: One, how good are the bikes? And two, how user friendly is the app? Operator Serco has experience in the industry running the service in London and the technology is being used in Trondheim and Bergen in Norway.
The bikes are currently manual but Serco is working on a new electric assisted bike to make the journey even easier for riders. The scheme does not provide user protection such as helmets which may influence tourists’ decisions in particular whether to use them. The app was simple and effective and a quick adjusting of the seat and I was off – and pleasantly surprised.
The three-gear bike is simple but visually smart and has all the attributes to tackle Edinburgh’s roads. Climbing the Royal Mile and The Mound was easy on the three-gear bike without me getting out of breath, surprisingly.
I was intrigued at how the new bikes would manage cobbles. It was jittery at times but the thick wheels help. As the year progresses, so will Just Eat cycles with a further roll-out expected in the coming weeks until there are 1,000 available in Edinburgh.
The increase will come just in time for Christmas with an expected 80 bike stations to also be in operation, further enhancing the experience for users.
The bikes will be available 24 hours a day all year round, including being effectively the only mode of transport on Christmas Day. Serco experiences one of its busiest days in London on December 25 with 30,000 to 40,000 hires in one day.
The firm has a team of ten employees working from its Leith depot for redistribution management and repairs of the bikes while another four posts have been created within Serco’s Caledonian Sleeper office based in Inverness.
Matt McNulty, urban mobility director at Serco, said: “We are really excited about the launch in Edinburgh making cycling easy and accessible to everyone. It was the perfect city for us as it has a reasonably high level of cycling already and it has the right infrastructure and culture to make this work.”