OLYMPIC champion and Santander brand ambassador Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill visited Leicester today to support the city’s popular new e-bike share project, Santander Cycles Leicester.
Dame Jessica - who won Olympic gold in 2012 and was World Champion three times, all for heptathlon – was excited to try out Leicester’s popular new e-bike share scheme. Santander Cycles Leicester has already had more than 14,000 people sign up to get riding.
The scheme opened up to everyone in April this year, and will eventually see 500 electric bikes available to hire from 50 stations located in key points across the city centre. This will make it the largest docked e-bike hire scheme in the UK.
The £600,000 project is being funded by Leicester City Council after the council’s successful bid to the Department for Transport (DfT) – with sponsorship by Santander UK and investment from operator Ride On and their delivery partner Enzen Global.
Leicester City Council has a package of nearly £80million, including funding from the DfT’s Transforming Cities Fund, to spend on a range of major projects. They include developing better walking and cycling links, launching the e-bike sharing scheme and upgrading park and ride buses from diesel to electric.
During her visit, Dame Jessica enjoyed riding the e-bikes on the people-friendly streets of Leicester city centre. She also met with groups who use the e-bike share scheme to get around – including students, cycling ambassadors and a local women’s group, many of whom only learned to ride a bike for the first time in the past couple of years.
Dame Jessica said: “I’m delighted to support Santander Cycles Leicester and promote cycling as a simple and fun way for people to be more active and healthy. E-bikes are a fantastic choice because they make cycling even more easy and accessible, giving you a boost of extra power when you need it!
“It’s great to see these bikes on the streets of Leicester and people out and about using them, making the most of the city’s impressive network of safe cycle routes. I hope lots of people will give Santander Cycles Leicester a try and become regular users of the scheme.”
Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transport, said: “Leicester is a cycling city. Our new e-bike share scheme is part of our commitment to cycling and to the ongoing challenge of the climate emergency. It’s also an important part of our covid-19 transport recovery plan.
“Opting to travel by bike is a great choice to make – for your own health, for our city’s air quality and for the environment. It also helps to support our local economy, with our growing network of people-friendly streets benefitting small, independent local businesses.
“We’ve developed an inclusive, affordable and accessible e-bike share scheme to help to make cycling the preferred option for many of our diverse communities, joining the 18,000 people that already choose to travel regularly in Leicester by bike.”
Dan Sherwood, Director of Marketing at Santander UK, said: “We are really pleased to support Leicester City Council in this fantastic initiative. Following a successful trial phase, it’s been great to see the positive take-up of this innovative e-bike scheme and we look forward to supporting many more people in Leicester with an alternative, sustainable and accessible way to travel the city.”
Miguel Vital, CEO of Ride On, said: “For Ride On, it’s an honour to become the operator and manager of the e-bike share scheme for Leicester City Council, and to receive support from Santander UK. We have begun a journey that will make Leicester a smarter city in terms of mobility and will contribute to it becoming an environmentally sustainable landmark.
“Our system is a highly innovative docked e-bike scheme, meaning that in addition to keeping the fleets organised and parked only at our stations, the e-bikes are also efficiently charged. The end result means we are able to optimise time, costs and our environmental footprint. You will all enjoy the experience!”
To use the scheme, you register online, buy a plan based on your needs and then use your smartphone to unlock an e-bike and start riding. Pay as you go, monthly and annual memberships are all available, with prices for a pay as you go journey starting from well under £3 – it costs just £1.40 for the first 20 minutes, plus a £1.20 unlocking fee.
So far, more than 28,000 trips have been made on the Santander Cycles Leicester e-bikes.
To find out more and to sign up, visit www.rideonleicester.com.
Picture shows, l-r: Johnson Oyegoke from Ride On, Dan Sherwood from Santander UK, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Cllr Adam Clarke and (on our leicester.gov.uk/news homepage) Janet Hudson from Leicester City Council
Notes to Editors
Leicester City Council
Since 2012, Leicester City Council has invested more than £70m in creating cycling-friendly streets, people-friendly public squares, public transport hubs and cycle tracks along main roads.
As part of Leicester’s ongoing response to coronavirus, the city council has developed a Covid-19 Transport Recovery Plan. Initiatives of the plan include Leicester Bike Aid, which gave away more than 500 bikes to key workers in need of them, fixing a further 750 to help people get around by bike at the height of the pandemic. A network of ‘keyworker corridor’ pop-up cycle lanes helped essential workers to get around safely – and these workers were also able to try out the e-bike share scheme in a pilot phase earlier this year.
Ride On sees the United Kingdom as a vital strategic market, where electric mobility solutions are booming exponentially. The implementation of docked e-bike share schemes can solve the urban planification problems caused by dockless systems, where bikes can sometimes be abandoned on the street and vandalism rates tend to be higher.
Ride On has a proven track record of operating successful e-bike share schemes in the UK, US and Spain.
Santander is committed to supporting local communities and helping people and businesses prosper. This includes support by providing vital investment in cycle share schemes across the UK. Santander Cycles is currently running in London, Milton Keynes, Swansea, Leicester, and Brunel University London campus, offering a healthy and sustainable way of travelling around the cities.