Electric cycle hire mooted for Edinburgh


Electric bicycle hire could be introduced in Edinburgh following a demonstration of their potential by an entrepreneur.

The 'freeflow' bikes have an onboard motor that kicks in once the wheels are turning are more than 3mph. In a scheme similar to that introduced in San Francisco, the man behind the project, Neil Macmartin, believes it would work because a traditional cycle hire project - like the so-called Boris Bikes in London - would not work due to the topography of Edinburgh.

Mr MacMartin told the Scotsman: 'There are other cities like San Francisco, which has installed these kinds of electric bikes. In a city like Edinburgh, built on seven hills, that is not an ideal market to put a traditional bike scheme in, which is why this electric bike plan is preferable.'

Green councillor Gavin Corbett welcomed the proposals and saw the potential of the scheme.

He said: 'Edinburgh needs to think bigger on transport. That means reducing traffic volumes by at least 20 to 30 per cent for cleaner, safer and less congested streets. It is hard to see that happening without a massive increase in lighter-touch transport, like bicycles and, given the challenging topography of the city, electric bikes can be part of the picture.

'I’ve been cycling in the city for 20 years and, personally, I’ll continue to do so. As part of a fleet of both traditional and electric bikes it could raise the bar in thinking about street and junction design that would make it easier for all kinds of cyclists.'

Although welcoming the move, cycling groups were cautious of embracing the plans, claiming a traditional push-bike scheme would be a preferable option due to the expense of electric cycle infrastructure - such as charging points.

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