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Shared e-bikes overtake pedal bikes in record year for UK

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National shared transport charity CoMoUK recorded nearly 25 million bike share hires last year making it a milestone year for the UK.

CoMoUK’s annual report equates this to a record average of over 67,000 rides per day between September 2022 and September 2023, a 24% increase from the previous year.

Adding to the milestone, the number of bike share e-bikes has surpassed that of pedal bikes for the first time ever. In 2023, there were 25,000 e-bikes on the road, which is more than double the 12,000 available in 2022.

“Our research this year shows that shared e-bikes are massively increasing in both availability and popularity across the UK as providers and authorities respond to the growing demand from the public,” CoMoUK CEO Richard Dilks told Zag Daily.

Nearly 15 million e-bike hires were recorded in the period covered by the report compared with approximately 10 million pedal bike hires. This is more than double the six million e-bike hires made in the previous year.

On why e-bikes have seen a surge in popularity, Richard said that users appreciate the fact that e-bikes can get them where they need to be faster and with less effort. The report found that the most popular reason for opting for an e-bike or e-cargo was to reduce journey time, with 53% of 1,100 survey respondents stating this answer.

“Moreover, our research indicates that people are increasingly recognising the physical and mental health benefits of e-bikes, with 72% of those hiring a shared e-bike reporting cycling more often.”

Supporting those with disabilities 

Richard highlighted how an e-bike’s battery assistance can help manage both temporary and long-term disabilities, though they can be heavier when stationary.

“We recently heard from a female user in Fort William who shared her experience. She mentioned that she’s currently dealing with long Covid and ME [chronic fatigue], conditions that prevent her from riding a regular pedal bike.

“She expressed appreciation for being able to use e-bikes as they still allow her to cycle with friends and travel in an eco-friendly way.”

Up and down for Scotland 

Scotland had a record year for the number of daily rides taken on shared bikes, up from 1,326 per day to 1,470. This increase is despite the number of bike share schemes across Scotland falling from seven to five.

But CoMoUK found that Scotland is lagging behind the UK on e-bikes, with the number available in bike shares falling from 619 to 528 over the past year.

“We would like to see more coherent and comprehensive government policies that specifically address bike share schemes, including e-bike share programmes. Unfortunately, there is a notable absence of such policies, which represents a significant missed opportunity,” Richard said.

“We hope that the government will recognise the importance and effectiveness of bike share schemes in promoting cycling and incorporate them into their policy and practice moving forward.” 

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