Pay-as-you-ride electric bikes are now available to hire in Staveley through a community ebike scheme that’s the first of its kind in Cumbria and the UK.
Wheeled out on Monday 3 October 2022, the scheme got under way with two ebikes initially (named after local landmarks Reston and Craggy). Based in Staveley Mill Yard, anyone over 14 can book the bikes for as little as an hour, and they’re available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The ebike scheme has been developed by volunteers from the Sustainable Staveley community group, working in partnership with cycle store Wheelbase and other local businesses. It’s been supported by the Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership through its Community Climate Grants scheme, funded by the National Lottery and coordinated by Cumbria Action for Sustainability.
“The ebikes are ideal for residents and businesses to make local trips based on a membership scheme with really low hourly rates,” said Isobel Stoddart from Sustainable Staveley. “We’re thrilled to launch the scheme, which will open up the quiet lanes around Staveley for anyone to explore on two wheels, whatever their level of fitness and however hilly it is! There is a recognised thing called the “ebike smile” – having that bit of assistance just feels great. When was the last time making a journey made you smile?”
Sustainable Staveley will be monitoring lessons from all aspects of the scheme – from user profiles, types and lengths of journeys made, carbon saved, how the business model and the booking systems work, and how the bikes perform.
Transport consultant Alistair Kirkbride, also from Sustainable Staveley, said the main purpose of the ebike scheme was to tap into the potential of ebikes to help people in rural areas to cut their carbon footprint, but the group also hopes to learn more about the other benefits, such as health, wellbeing, social and economic impacts, especially given the current rise in the cost of living.
“Indeed, the recent #BIKEISBEST cost of living report revealed that 57 per cent of those in their twenties see ebikes as a natural car replacement,” Alistair said.
Although the scheme is initially launching in Staveley, it has been designed to work as a viable, not-for-profit model for villages and rural communities. It’s hoped that other communities around the county will pick up inspiration and learning from the experience in Staveley.
“We will be writing a handbook for other Cumbria communities that are interested in setting up a similar scheme,” Alistair said.
Toby Dalton, director of Wheelbase, which has a store in Staveley, said: “We are proud to be working in partnership with Sustainable Staveley, helping to facilitate Cumbria’s first community Ebike share scheme. Wheelbase has seen a real boom in the popularity of ebikes in recent years, with customers recognising the obvious benefits of travelling by an electric pedal-assist bike that helps to cut through some of the typical barriers to cycling while also contributing to a greener transport initiative.”
Anyone wanting to use the ebikes has a choice of three ways to book. There’s an annual subscription option at £50 and then an hourly hire rate of £2, or a six-month subscription at £25, giving an hourly rate £3. Occasional users can hire them for £5 an hour with no subscription.
For full details, visit www.communityebikes.org.
Photo credit SENS/Wheelbase Ltd.
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#BIKEISBEST Cost of living report, September 2022, https://www.bikeisbest.com/e-bike-research-2022