More than 1,500 Islanders will have the chance to go electric this summer with the roll-out of a series of innovative electric bike pilot projects across the Island, delivered by the Isle of Wight Council.
The plans include an e-bike roadshow, e-bike hire and loan schemes working in partnership with local cycle hire operators, and an e-cycle corridor along the Newport to Cowes cycle-path.
The projects will focus on introducing Islanders to e-bikes in a safe, structured manner, focussing on residents from groups that have traditionally been less attracted to cycling.
The announcement has been made possible thanks to a £132,920 grant from the Department for Transport’s E-Cycle Extension Fund — from which the council was 1 of only 9 local authorities to secure funding.
Welcoming the news, Councillor Jonathan Bacon, Cabinet member for environment, said e-bikes were an increasingly popular way of travelling, both for local journeys and wider Island exploration.
“This funding will provide opportunities for many Island residents to experience riding an e-bike for the first time, in a variety of traffic free settings and with appropriate tuition.
“We are aware of concerns over the misuse of the bikes so the opportunity to have a proper introduction to them and to address any safety issues is important to both the users and the public at large.”
The projects included in the Isle of Wight programme are:
- a subsidised e-bike hire scheme working with local cycle hire operators;
- a dedicated fleet of e-bikes available for loan for up to 1 month;
- an e-bike roadshow offering people the opportunity to try e-bikes in a safe setting;
- a peer to peer e-bike share scheme, allowing e-bike owners to receive an income in return for making their bikes available for others to use;
- an e-bike corridor utilising the Red Squirrel Trail cycle-path between Newport and Cowes, giving local residents the opportunity to use e-bikes as an alternative to their car.
Between people being at home with more time on their hands, residents itching to spend more time outdoors after lockdown, and commuters looking for socially distant ways to get to work while avoiding public transport, the Island has witnessed a cycling boom over the past 12 months.
The new projects are additional and complementary to the council’s popular Key Worker Cycle Scheme, part of its Access Fund programme, which has enabled more than 500 residents to receive a complimentary bike loan or cycle repair since April last year.
It is anticipated the latest projects will further support the bicycle renaissance and make it easier for Islanders to choose zero-emission and active travel options.
Councillor Phil Jordan, Cabinet member for transport and infrastructure, added:
“We anticipate these short term e-bike experiences will act as a catalyst for increased levels of e-bike ownership among Island residents, realising the health and environmental benefits that this active form of transport can deliver.”