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Co Bikes hire scheme unveil new ‘dockless’ sites

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The expansion of Exeter’s Co Bikes, the UK’s first on-street city electric bike hire scheme, continues with three new dockless sites for the city.

The new stations, which need no fixed infrastructure for bikes to be locked into, are being trialled at the junction of Magdalen Road and College Road, in Digby Park & Ride and outside Chapel Platt Surgery in Topsham.

Instead of a docking station, the bikes are rented and returned within a virtual geofenced space. Customers simply push the Co Bike into, or as close as possible to, the rack then lock the bike and end their hire via the nextbike app.

To help easily identify exactly where to leave a Co Bike at the end of a hire, each dockless station features a bright orange ‘toast rack’ style bike rack.

The new locations are part of Devon County Council’s plans to increase access to walking and cycling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cycling levels have increased since the pandemic began and use of the Co Bike network is up by more than 400 per cent this year.

Co Bikes was launched in 2016 and now has just under 50 bikes at 13 sites with more than 1700 active members registered up to end of September 2020.

Existing Co Bikes sites include St David’s Station, Central Station, County Hall, Civic Centre, University of Exeter’s St Luke’s campus, the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus, Digby & Sowton train station, RD&E Hospital main entrance, Cranbrook and Heavitree High Street.

And more are planned with sites on Sidwell Street, and in St Thomas due to open before the end of the year.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for

Photo of Councillor Stuart Hughes
Councillor Stuart Hughes

Highways with responsibility for cycling said: “Cities are becoming more congested and it is vital that we reduce our dependency on the car. The scheme already shows that people are willing to make the switch and expanding the network not only increases choice of destinations, but will also encourage more people to cycle.”

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, the local county councillor for Wearside & Topsham, said:
“I’m delighted to see electric bike hire extended into Topsham. The new bike station will improve links to the existing city network, making it easier to travel from Topsham to key locations and employment in the city centre, Exeter University and the RD &E Hospital.
“It will also make it easier for more people to visit the great shops and business we have in Topsham. I look forward to seeing this scheme continue to grow and improve travel to other destinations in and around Exeter.”


Mark Hodgson, Founder and MD of Co Bikes, said: “The impact of Covid, and subsequent social distancing measures, has precipitated a massive resurgence in cycling. At Co Bikes, we’ve seen usage of our e-bikes skyrocket over the last few months. By introducing a mix of docked and dockless Co Bikes stations, we can expand our network faster so even more people can use this healthy, swift, zero carbon way to make journeys around the Exeter area.”