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Funding boost helps gear up expansion of e-bike network

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Devon’s e-bike cycle network is being expanded thanks to £125,000 of government funding.

Devon County Council has secured the grant from the Department for Transport (DfT) to expand on-street electric bicycle hire across Exeter.

The main element of the scheme will introduce six new Co Bike dockless sites, including new sites in Newtown and St Thomas and those already operating in Princesshay and the Future Skills Centre.

Alongside the recently opened e-bike station on Cowick Street, and planned e-bike stations at Exeter College and Exeter Airport, the additional stations will increase the Co Bike network in Exeter by around a third.

Devon introduced the UK’s first on street e-bike hire and is again leading the way by helping the DfT trail and help evidence the role of dockless alongside docked stations in an electric bike hire network.

The funding will also support a number of other improvements in the city, which includes:

– E-bikes for the use of health services and police, with NHS doctors from Pinhoe and Broadclyst Medical Practice carrying out a trial this month using Co Bikes for home visits and travel between practices;
– E-bike confidence sessions. The free one-to-one sessions aim to maximise use of the new stations and build confidence in cycling on e-bikes;
– Taster tickets to remove financial barriers and encourage new users to try e-cycling for free;
– Adapted e-bike sessions. Working with Freetrike Rehab Cycling to offer sessions which are two hours long and completely free to residents in the Devon County Council area who cannot ride a standard e-cycle. Those taking part will be picked from their home and transported to their nearest off-road path. Carers and family are encouraged to come along and share the experience.

Cycling Minister Chris Heaton Harris said: “As we build back greener from the pandemic, this Government is committed to enabling as many people as possible to boost their health and fitness and help reduce emissions by hopping on a bike and taking up cycling for shorter journeys.

“Today’s announcement will help make this happen, with a total of £1.48 million going towards fantastic initiatives in areas right across the country to promote the use of e-cycles. So whether you’re new to cycling, or would like to try a cycle that does some of the legwork for you, these initiatives will help more people to have access to active forms of travel.”

Photo of Councillor Stuart Hughes
Councillor Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Cycling, said: “This funding is making it possible for us to introduce a number of improvements to encourage people to consider swapping their car for an e-bike on short journeys. The dockless sites raise awareness of e-bikes while enabling us to test demand in new locations, and people will have the opportunity to try them for free. Hopefully they will see that taking to two wheels can have positive benefits on their health and their local environment.”

Photo of Councillor Andrea Davis
Councillor Andrea Davis

Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport, said: “This scheme continues the successful growth of e-bikes in Exeter, which has increased fivefold over the past year. Electric bike hire is playing a valuable role in helping to tackle congestion and reduce carbon emissions, and by expanding the e-bike network, we’re providing more people with access to this healthy travel choice.”

For more information go to our Travel Devon webpages.