LEICESTER’S innovative new electric bike share scheme is opening up to all city residents on Wednesday 14 April.
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. This will make Santander Cycles Leicester the largest docked e-bike hire scheme in the UK.
Bikes have already appeared at on-street docking stations across the city as the scheme has been running in a pilot phase since January. Volunteers – made up of key workers who had to be out and about for essential journeys - have been helping to test the system.
Now, to coincide with the reopening of non-essential retail, Santander Cycles Leicester will be open to anyone who wants to use it.
The £600,000 project is being funded by a partnership made up of Leicester City Council - following the council’s successful bid to the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities fund – with sponsorship from Santander UK and additional investment from the operator, Ride On, and their delivery partner Enzen Global.
To access the scheme, people 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 Cllr 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 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 available now at sites including Gallowtree Gate, De Montfort University, Dock and Leicester Railway Station.
To ensure good hygiene, Ride On’s maintenance team will be disinfecting the equipment regularly, using ‘Ghostbuster’ style backpacks of sanitising spray so that they can move around the docking stations and bikes effectively.
Users will be advised 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.
Leicester City Council has a package of nearly £80million, including funding from the Government's Transforming Cities Fund, to spend on a range of major projects. As well as the bike share scheme, these include developing better walking and cycling links and upgrading to electric park and ride buses.
In May 2020, the council developed a covid-19 Transport Recovery Plan, setting out how Leicester’s transport system can best meet the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic and help the city’s economy to recover, as well as securing longer-term environmental benefits. The e-bike share scheme is a key part of the plan.
An official launch event for Santander Cycles Leicester is being planned for June.
Visit www.rideonleicester.com for more information on the scheme.