An electric bike pilot scheme that has received more than £1m of funding from the Welsh Government is already helping local residents to swap their car for a bike in communities across Wales.
The electric bike loan scheme, run by Sustrans, offers a range of battery assisted electric bikes for free, on long-term loan, for local residents that do not cycle regularly or find the cost of electric bikes a barrier to using them.
The scheme which is being rolled out initially in five locations across Wales – Rhyl, Swansea, Newtown (with links to Aberystwyth) and Barry – will help the Welsh Government gather data to inform recommendations for the long term use of electric bikes and active travel.
Each of the sites are stocked with 20 electric bikes (a mix of 6 model variations). The pilot scheme will run over a two year period.
Sustrans is one of two electric bike pilot schemes that has received Welsh Government funding. Pedal Power, an inclusive cycling charity based in Cardiff, has also received a share of the one million pounds to help them to continue to remove barriers to cycling so that it can be truly accessible and inclusive to all.
Visiting one of the electric bike loan facilities in Rhyl, the Deputy Minister for Climate Change, with a responsibility for transport, Lee Waters said: “We want walking and cycling to become the normal choice for shorter journeys because active travel is not only better for our environment, but also for our health and economy.
“We know that this will involve a huge cultural change and that’s why we’re investing in schemes like the electric bike pilot to help people who have never cycled before to make a change to the way they travel in an affordable and sustainable way.”
Liveable Cities and Towns Project Officer for Sustrans, Johnny Eldridge said: “Sustrans strives to make it easier for people to walk and cycle. We are hoping that the scheme will enable affordable access to electric bikes in Rhyl by testing the potential of community cycle loan facilities.
“The pilot project will help understand the benefits of battery assisted cycles for a diverse range of users. The scheme’s bikes can be fitted with load carrying accessories, making them very versatile.
“We hope that the electric bikes will also offer a fun and enjoyable way to travel and will make a positive impact on people’s wellbeing.”
Two local residents who have been benefitting from this electric bike scheme are Landen Sweeney and Marie Moore.
Landen Sweeney works as a Town Ranger for Rhyl’s Business Improvement District and lives in Colwyn Bay. He uses his bike for his daily commute into Rhyl for work: “Living in Old Colwyn I would normally drive to work which due to the busy roads, particularly in the summer months, takes much longer than it should. So when I was offered the opportunity to loan an electric bike to cycle to work I snapped it up.
“The north Wales coastal path is a simple ride from Old Colwyn to Rhyl with some breathtaking views along the way, views I didn’t get to appreciate when I was driving. It’s not only saved me time and given me a better work-life balance, but has been great for my health and wellbeing too. I have started to lose weight and have noticeably gained fitness – so it’s a win-win!
“There’s no need to worry if you’re a novice to cycling either. The bike is easy to operate and thanks to the electric aspect, hills are a doddle, but you still get exercise from peddling. Also the spacious bag strapped to the side of the bike provides ample space for all my work stuff and I even have space left to bring home some shopping at the end of the day.”
Marie Moore is a retired lady who lives in Rhuddlan, a 15 minute cycle ride from Rhyl. She has been using her bike most days for social journeys and keeping fit: “I’ve had the bike for two weeks and I’ve already cycled 130 miles. It’s addictive! I love the feeling of riding the electric bike and I feel much safer than when riding a normal bike, especially when out riding alone. I have found that I have drastically reduced my car use, which has saved me a lot of money on fuel costs already. Using the electric bike for shopping is much more practical than going in the car, you haven’t got to worry about sitting in traffic or finding a place to park.”
Image: courtesy media.service.gov.wales