Leicester’s new e-bike hire scheme is being opened up to everyone in the city after a three-month pilot where they were being tested by key workers during lockdown.
The latest relaxation of the rules designed to stop the spread of Covid-19 – particularly the re-opening of non-essential shopping – has prompted Leicester City Council to widen the £600,000 scheme from today, Wednesday April 14.
A discounted trial offer will be available for a limited period and includes a reduction in the cost of scheme membership, as well as discounted usage rates for each journey taken.
The scheme, known as Santander Cycles Leicester, will eventually see 500 electric bikes available to hire from 50 locations across Leicester city centre making it the largest docked e-bike hire scheme in the UK.
Nearly 1,000 key workers volunteered to test the e-bikes during the pilot period, from January, and they have completed more than 1,600 journeys.
The project is being paid for by the council with sponsorship from Santander UK and extra investment from the operator, Ride On, and their partner Enzen Global.
E-bike riders will be able to register online, buy a plan based on their needs and then use a smartphone to unlock a bike and start riding.
Day passes and membership fares will be available to help people make the most of their journeys in the city.
To join the trial scheme will cost just £1.20 for a 30-day plan, with hire rates starting at 60 pence for the first 30 minutes.
Deputy city mayor councillor Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “You may already have seen key workers riding about on our new electric hire bikes, and now the relaxing of coronavirus restrictions means we can open up this scheme to everyone.
“Santander Cycles Leicester is an ambitious new venture that demonstrates how determined we are to keep Leicester on track as a cycling city in the wake of coronavirus.
“Whether you have tried cycling for the first time during lockdown, or you’re already a regular cyclist, these bikes are for you.
“Santander Cycles Leicester allows users to make quick, easy trips across the city – perfect for exploring the city centre as the shops start to reopen.
“Opening up this scheme to all will help to support our local city centre economy, as well as our efforts to improve air quality, health and wellbeing.”
Santander Cycles Leicester will cover the city centre and some surrounding neighbourhoods.
Journeys have to begin and end at a docking station, but there are already 15 of these on streets and operational, with a further 35 coming soon.
Docking stations are already available at sites including Gallowtree Gate, De Montfort University and Leicester Railway Station.
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Ride On’s maintenance team will be disinfecting the equipment regularly, using ‘Ghostbuster’ style backpacks of sanitising spray to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus,
Users will be urged to use hand sanitiser and/or gloves when riding the bikes, as well as taking wipes to wipe down the bike themselves before and after use.
An official launch event for Santander Cycles Leicester is being planned for June.
Visit www.rideonleicester.com for more information on the scheme.