The city’s long-awaited “Boris bikes” have arrived in Edinburgh for testing ahead of the launch of the cycle hire scheme in September.
Tweaked from their London counterparts to handle the Capital’s hilly terrain, over the next few weeks the new Pashley bikes and some demo docking stations will be put through rigorous tests to ensure they are fit for purpose before being used by the public.
The scheme, dubbed Your Bike, will release an initial 200 bikes which will be spread across a first phase of locations including docking stations at Waverley Station, in the city centre and at various points at Edinburgh University campuses.
No details of prices for hire options have been announced yet but the scheme will allow the public to hire bikes through an annual membership, on a daily basis, or for shorter periods.
The bikes can be picked up and dropped off at the specialised stations or, in first for the UK, at designated dockless parking areas.
The hybrid lock means cyclists aren’t limited to the physical stations and can make use of certain “geofenced” areas – locations agreed with the council where the bikes can be locked up outwith the permanent parking hubs.
Operator Secro said the cobalt blue bikes will offer cyclists “excellent handling and ride quality” as well as featuring Shimano gears and brakes, gel saddles, front and rear LED lights, puncture resistant tyres that do not compromise ride quality, and a step-through frame allowing ease-of-use for all cyclists regardless of height.
Transport Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “Bike hire schemes have been a great success in cities across the world, encouraging residents and visitors to give cycling a go.
“I’m very much looking forward to seeing our new and distinctive blue bikes become a familiar sight around our historic Capital when the scheme goes live in September.
“This bike hire initiative, coupled with the Council’s continued investment in improving cycling infrastructure across the city, will help make Edinburgh even more of a cycle-friendly place, boosting health and wellbeing and cutting harmful carbon emissions into the bargain.”
A decade after Conservatives first made the proposal Tory city councillor Nick Cook lamented the length of time it has taken to get to this point and warned that pricing should ensure the bikes are accessible to all.
He said: “After years spent sitting on their hands, it is positive to see the Council finally jump on board and deliver a bike hire scheme through partnership with Transport for Edinburgh (TfE).”
“First called for by Conservative Councillors around 2001, the path to success now rests on the location of docking stations and the pricing structure used. The bikes must be affordable to all.”
Serco and Transport for Edinburgh promised a further 300 bikes to be operational by April 2019 with an aim of expanding the number to 2,000 cycles.