Electric bikes to help riders tackle Edinburgh's hills

Electric bikes to help riders up Edinburgh's hills are to feature in the Capital's long-awaited cycle hire scheme to be launched next summer.

Saturday, 18th November 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 1:21 am
Electric cycles will help riders battle Edinburgh's hills, Picture: John Devlin
Electric cycles will help riders battle Edinburgh's hills, Picture: John Devlin

The project is expected to provide at least 600 bikes, including 100 electric models.

They would be available for pick up and drop off at points across the city.

Schemes are well established in cities such as London, with Glasgow doubling the size of its three-year-old scheme in September to more than 900 bikes.

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A three-year contract for the Edinburgh pilot scheme is due to be advertised early next month.

More than a dozen potential operators have expressed initial interest.

It is expected to be the largest electric scheme in the UK after Derby, which has plans for 200 bikes.

The city council’s Transport for Edinburgh body (TfE), which is developing the scheme, said electric bikes were a crucial element.

It said they would help tackle the Capital’s challenging topography and also make 
cycling more accessible.

Electric bikes would attract novice and less confident cyclists, and enable people to get about without getting their clothes sweaty.

No prices have been announced, but Glasgow’s scheme charges £1 per 30 minutes, or £10 for 24 hours.

It also has a £5-a-month membership scheme, under which the first 30 minutes of every hire are free, with the next 30 minutes costing 50p, and £1 thereafter.

Bikeplus, the umbrella body for hire schemes, said charges for electric bikes were generally only slightly higher than those for other cycles.

TfE chief executive George Lowder said: “On current planning, we hope to issue a contract notice and 
invitation to tender in early December. We are aiming for a pilot scheme to be in place by summer 2018.”

Bidders are likely to include nextbike, which runs the Glasgow scheme for the city council, and one in Stirling to which 50 electric bikes will be added next year.

UK managing director Julian Scriven said: “Given the unqualified success of these schemes, we very much hope to be in the running.”

Others include artists Jenna Seymour and Leezac Robinson, whose E-City Cycles bid would involve 1,000 electric bikes at 50 sites.

Dave du Feu, of Spokes, the Lothian cycle campaign, said: “The plan to include 100 electric bikes is a real innovation, which will therefore need to be monitored carefully, but it could prove a big hit for trips such as from the city centre to the Botanics or up the Mound.

“Although we expect the scheme to be a success, our biggest concern is the need for a less traffic-dominated city centre and particularly for segregated cycle provision in Princes Street.”

Council transport convener Lesley Macinnes said: “Many European cities now have successful schemes in place, which help encourage residents and visitors to keep active while exploring their surroundings on two wheels. I am pleased Edinburgh will soon join their ranks.”