Electric bikes have proved an instant hit at Scotland’s largest rental scheme with hires of the power-assisted cycles running at twice the rate of its standard bikes.
The popularity of the bikes just a month after they were launched in Glasgow bodes well for other schemes, such as Edinburgh, which is due to follow suit in the spring.
Nextbike, which operates the Glasgow scheme for the city council, said its e-bikes had each been hired an average of 2.8 times a day, compared to 1.4 times for its standard bikes.
E-bikes provide effortless pedalling up to 15.5mph but are in other respects similar to the standard hire bikes.
They can be rented at dozens of docking stations across Glasgow using a mobile phone app, which records the QR code on the bike to unlock it.
Hires cost £2 per 20 minutes, up to £30 a day. That compares to £1 per 30 minutes, up to £10 a day, for standard bikes, which were launched five years ago.
The fleet of 63 e-bikes has been rented up to nearly 200 times a day, although some have been out of action due to maintenance issues or vandalism.
The 650-strong standard fleet has been rented more than 800 times a day.
Nextbike UK managing director Krysia Solheim said: “Considering October traditionally marks the start of bike share rentals falling in many cities, it’s phenomenal we’re seeing e-bikes being rented at double the rate of our standard fleet. It shows there’s a real appetite for an e-bike scheme in the city.
“With climate change higher than ever on the agenda, we need to find new ways of moving people through our towns and cities.
“E-bikes are a great way of doing this because they make cycling accessible for more people than ever, regardless of their fitness levels.”
Glasgow City Council’s sustainability department operations director Andy Waddell said: “It’s early days, but the initial response to the introduction of e-bikes has been fantastic.
“We were confident people would be interested in assisted cycling but we are currently exceeding our own expectations. We have a target of 1,000 hire bikes and we’d hope that e-bikes are part of that growth.”
Cycling Scotland spokeswoman Denise Hamilton said: “It’s encouraging to see the demand for e-bike hire in Glasgow, especially if it means people are swapping driving and taxi journeys for travel by bike.”
Ellie Grebenik, of the Energy Saving Trust, which issues Scottish Government grants for e-bikes, said: “They offer accessible assisted cycling to people and it’s positive the scheme has enabled a greater opportunity to try the technology.”