Exeter launches UK’s first on-street city electric bike hire scheme
Posted on: 18 October 2016
Exeter has became the birthplace of an ambitious electric bike hire scheme which will be steadily replicated in cities nationwide to create a revolution in urban travel.
Spearheading the project, Exeter’s Co-bikes boasts a number of UK firsts including first on-street city network of electric bikes and first electric bikes at a UK train station.
Co-bikes is the first city-wide network of electric bikes for self-service hire by the public from on-street docking stations. Riders can hire, ride and drop the bikes off at any Co-bikes site – much like London’s ‘Boris Bike’ concept except purely with electric bikes.
The e-bikes are initially available at sites across Exeter, including Exeter Central train station, Exeter University and Digby and Sowton Park and Ride, with the Civic Centre and County Hall coming later in 2016. Each dock has 4-8 bikes. By Spring 2017 the scheme will be extended to 8 sites in and around the city.
Co-bikes is the brainchild of the team behind Exeter-based Co-cars, the fastest-growing hire-by-the-hour car club in the South West, with cars available across Exeter, Salisbury, Dorchester, Barnstaple and other towns.
While the bikes are available for hire by anyone on spec, Co-bikes also offers joint membership with Co-cars.
With this unique hiring scheme, a single smart card will give members access to all of the bikes and cars under the Co-bikes/Co-cars umbrella.
This is the first one-card membership scheme for car and bike hire in the UK.
Further, Co-bikes is the first UK electric bike member of the fast-growing global nextbike network which has normal UK bike share schemes in Bath, Milton Keynes, Coventry, Belfast, Stirling Glasgow and in over 100 locations worldwide.
This will give Co-bikes members automatic access to bikes at cities across the UK and overseas.
Mark Hodgson, owner of Co-bikes and Co-cars said:
“After years of planning, we’re very excited to be launching Co-bikes in Exeter. The Co-bikes electric bikes are changing the way that people travel around the city and are affordable and easy as well as being great fun to ride! We all know that our cities are becoming more congested and spread-out, and a travel revolution is needed to help people more easily, quickly, enjoyably and affordably reach their business, study or leisure destinations. Electric bikes are the catalyst for this revolution and for an easy, enjoyable, electric Exeter. Because of their small footprint, they can easily be docked on the street by transport hubs, business and retail parks, and residential communities – helping people link up other transport options in the way that best suits them.”
Co-bikes is an A-to-B hire service. The e-bikes can be hired and returned to any docking station on the Co-bikes network.
Like its sister company Co-cars, Co-bikes are hired on a pay-as-you-go basis. People can hire the bikes on spec, or become a joint member of both organisations to gain discounts on both bike and car hire. Prices start from 75p per 30 mins for members and £1.50 for 30 mins for non-members.
The initiative has been launched with support from Department of Transport, Bikeplus, Devon County Council, Great Western Railways, University of Exeter and Exeter City Council.
Devon County Council has helped fund the scheme. Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet member for Highway Management, said:
“We’re pleased to have been able to help Co-bikes make this ground-breaking scheme in Exeter a reality. The Co-bikes provide a truly sustainable travel choice that makes it easy to get around the city, and opens up the option of travelling by bike to more people. The initiative complements the County Council’s infrastructure improvements, such as the new rail stations in and around Exeter as part of the Devon Metro, to help tackle congestion and support economic growth.”
Co-bikes provide affordable, smart, fun and easy electric cycle service for the city and beyond, using smart technology and mobile apps. It is an A-B bike hire service where bikes can be hired and returned to any docking station on the Co-bikes network. Each hub will have from 4-8 bikes. It is part of the nextbike network, so memberships means access to bikes at cities across the UK and globally. Co-bikes is part of Co-cars, the hire by the hour car club for Exeter and the South West.
About the bikes
The comfy, ultra-cool Co-bikes machines have small electric motors which offer smart consumers 40-60 miles of adjustable, power-assisted pedalling at the flick of a switch. This makes them ideal for people wanting an easy, convenient yet healthy way to traverse the hilly city of Exeter while staying cool. Powered by zero-carbon renewable energy from Good Energy, the bikes are environmentally-friendly, too.
The e-bikes are fitted with a proven telematics solution. This allows members to simply scan a QR code using their smart phone app, or swipe their smart membership card, to both unlock the e-Bike and begin transmitting their travel information direct to their account for monthly payment. Meanwhile, new customers are able to simply turn up and book directly from the touch-and-pay terminals using a credit card.
Co-cars is an Exeter based not for profit social enterprise co-operative ltd and has been operating for over 10 years, with cars in over 9 towns/cities in the South West. Co-cars’ vision is to be a truly sustainable enterprise providing services that change the way people move. Its mission is to deliver sustainable mobility for everyone. As co-operative, members have a say in how Co-cars is run.
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