Innovative cycle hire scheme coming to Edinburgh

Transport for Edinburgh and Serco have signed the concession agreement for Serco to introduce and operate the new cycle hire scheme for the City of Edinburgh – with the first bikes due to hit the City’s streets later this summer.

The scheme will match elements of Serco’s experience of operating the London Cycle Hire Scheme with the experience of Norwegian bike share developer and operator Urban Infrastructure Partner in running the cycle hire schemes in Oslo and Bergen. Using bikes from Serco’s partner on the London scheme Pashley Cycles, Serco will deliver a world-class bike share scheme tailored to the needs of Edinburgh residents, visitors and students.

To develop links with education, TfE has a Memorandum of Understanding with The University of Edinburgh, making the University an active partner for the scheme helping to coordinate the engagement of all other Edinburgh Universities and Colleges. The relationship is part of the University’s recently announced plan to be zero carbon by 2040.

The initial three-year concession agreement will deliver 500 manual cycles as well as 100 electric cycles. The first 200 manual cycles will be operational in time for the start of the university academic year, and the number of manual cycles available will increase to 500 by April 2019 along with the intended plan for e-bike hire. Serco and TfE believe that the City can sustain at least 2,000 cycles and the intention is for the scheme to grow incrementally, driven by user demand. It is anticipated that, after an initially successful three years, the scheme will be extended for a further four years.

The cycles themselves are similar to the new Pashley bikes currently being brought into the cycle scheme in London, although with a redesigned gear set to better suit Edinburgh. They were tested on the streets of Edinburgh by representatives from The Council, TfE, The University of Edinburgh and Sustrans during the bid evaluation process.

The initial rollout of the scheme will start in the City Centre, Waverley Station and University of Edinburgh sites. Individuals will be able to hire cycles through an annual membership, on a daily basis, or for shorter periods. The shorter period hire requires further market research to determine if a single ride or perhaps an hour-long hire is preferable.

One of the new scheme’s key features will be a hybrid lock that allows for docking at physical docking stations as well as secure dockless parking within designated dockless ‘geofenced’ parking areas. This combination means that users can benefit from the flexibility of a dockless scheme that does not compromise the order of the City’s streets, while also giving users the option of recognisable physical docks.

Powered by data analytics and prediction models, the cycle hire scheme in Edinburgh will ensure optimised usage of each bike and provide maximum access to users across Edinburgh.

Announcing the signature of the concession agreement, Transport for Edinburgh chief executive George Lowder MBE said: “Transport for Edinburgh are delighted to have concluded the Concession Agreement with Serco that sets the conditions for a long and successful partnership. At the same time, we have been working with the Serco Team to develop the details of the rollout and the scheme. This collaboration has been hugely positive and productive and we are very much looking forward to the launch of the service in September.”

Angus Cockburn, Serco’s Group CFO, Edinburgh resident and chair of Serco in Scotland added: “We are extremely excited to have the opportunity, in partnership with Transport for Edinburgh, to bring to Edinburgh the truly-world class cycle hire scheme that a city of its global standing deserves. At Serco we see a huge potential opportunity to improve urban mobility across the City, helping to support economic growth, reduce traffic congestion, and improve health and wellbeing.

“We’re looking forward to building partnerships with the City’s employers, community organisations and attractions to raise awareness of the scheme as a fun, healthy, easy, environmentally friendly and affordable way to travel. And, as an Edinburgh resident myself I am looking forward to using the new cycle scheme as an easy and accessible means of travelling around the City.” 

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