Guest Blog, Isobel Stoddart, Electric Travel
In 2011 3 of us decided to set up a Community Interest Company (Electric Travel CIC). The aim is to get more people cycling for everyday/leisure journeys. We were excited about the potential of ebikes to ‘unlock’ those barriers that normal bikes present to getting people onto two wheels. These include not wanting to get hot and sweaty, the fear of not being fit enough to get up the hills or to keep up with friends and family. In addition ebikes also open up the market to a wider audience not able to cycle conventional bikes such as older people or those with physical impairments.
We were conscious that elsewhere in Europe the opportunities that ebikes offer were being acknowledged given the rapid growth in ebike usage. For instance, 1 in 9 bikes in Holland being used for commuting is an ebike. And we were also interested in exploring the assertion that having an initial, positive leisure cycling experience, which ebikes provide, can lead to more regular cycling in the future.
So we set up an Electric Bike Network in several major visitor destinations, such as Lake District (supported by the Go Lakes Travel programme) to access lots of tourists and encourage them, whilst on holiday, to give e-cycling a go! Within any one Electric Bicycle Network area there will be a series of hire-points – usually accommodation and tourist attractions. This way, the bicycles are conveniently available where people actually want to use them - from their hotels, guest houses, and local attractions they visit. And each Network has a series of charge points, eg. pubs, cafes, attractions, where riders can top-up their batteries for free whilst enjoying something to eat/drink or visit.
The popularity of the ebikes is evident in the feedback we’ve received, both anecdotally and also from a user survey conducted in 2012. Over 50% of those that hired ebikes had either not cycled at all, very occasionally, or less than once a month. 99% of respondents said that they had had an excellent or good experience. And 75% said that, as a result of their experience, they were very likely or fairly likely to cycle more regularly.
Full listings of all hire or charge points are available on the website and you can search either by a map or a list view. There are contact details for each hire point, plus an enquiry service to submit an email direct to the hire/charge point. Costs will vary according to the hire point, but an average hire price is approximately £10 - £20 for a half-day, £20 - £35 for a full day.