Cyclists will be whizzing around the Capital after the long-awaited bike hire scheme was launched across the city.
The Just Eat Cycles scheme from Transport for Edinburgh was put into action today at 19 initial locations across Edinburgh – with 200 Pashley bikes awaiting cyclists.
Edinburgh’s own Mark Beaumont, who broke records last year by peddling around the world in 79 days, rode a Just Eat Cycles bike from the City Chambers to a launch party in Middle Meadow Walk, giving residents a first glimpse of the bikes and the app that allows users access.
He said: “Launching Just Eat Cycles is an exciting step for Edinburgh and the people who live, visit and study here.
“The app is very simple to use and the bikes will allow everyone to explore our great city.”
The first 19 locations for the bikes include Waverley Bridge, Canonmills, Stockbridge, Ocean Terminal and Fountainbridge.
Cllr Adam McVey, Leader of the city council, said: “The launch of a city-wide cycle hire scheme marks a new era in public transport for Edinburgh and the people who work, study and visit here.
“Investment in cycling infrastructure has gathered pace in recent years in Edinburgh, and this affordable and accessible scheme will complement the existing transport options available to those looking to get around the Capital.”
Users can hire bikes through an annual membership, on a daily basis, or for up to an hour using a smartphone app. Bikes can be returned to any cycle hire point at any time.
Initial reception has been positive, although cyclists in the south west of the city have bemoaned the lack of cycle points in their quarter of the Capital as part of the initial roll-out.
Green Cllr Gavin Corbett said: “The launch of a city bike hire scheme is long overdue and very welcome, but it is also important that its benefits are seen in all parts of the city.
“Here in south west Edinburgh there is real disappointment that there are virtually no pick up points in the first phase of roll-out. And that comes on top of a damning report last week which highlighted how poorly the south west is served for joined up cycling routes.
“So I have asked the cycle hire team to look at options along the canal, for example, and equally into Gorgie, Dalry, Saughton and round to the south.”
The project has won the backing of local cycle campaign group, Spokes.
Spokes’ Martin McDonnell said: “The scheme seems excellent and Spokes is very much in favour of a large-scale roll out of the bikes. They are comfortable to ride – even on cobbles and the gears make the hills doable – for those with strong legs.
“Linking these in to other transport options will make a very attractive alternative to having to use a car to get into and around town. Now we need to get safe and direct routes through the city centre and out to the suburbs to enable everyone to cycle.”
The bikes have front and rear LED lights, full-length mudguards, puncture resistant tyres and a step-through frame allowing ease-of-use for all cyclists regardless of height. The cycles have a redesigned gear set to suit Edinburgh.
A total of 1,000 manual bikes will be put to use by the end of the year.
Charles Graham, general manager of Just Eat Cycles, said: “We’re delighted to now share Just Eat Cycles with the people of Edinburgh.
“We’re confident that the scheme will offer users a convenient and enjoyable alternative mode of transport for exploring the city and get more people out and about on two wheels.”