A new scheme encouraging Greater Manchester residents to get out and about on two wheels by hiring e-bikes has been launched.
Cycling UK is running a pilot scheme called Cycling made e-asy which funds free loans of the vehicles for periods of up to three months at a time.
Greater Manchester is the first place to have the scheme unveiled, with four more places across the UK set to follow this summer.
Here’s what you need to know about the new public transport scheme and how you can get your hands on one of the e-bikes to get in the saddle.
What is the e-bike hire scheme being launched in Greater Manchester?
Cycling made e-asy is a new scheme developed by Cycling UK which is using £8m of Department for Transport (DfT) money to offer free loans for e-bikes in five pilot areas.
The scheme is now being unveiled in Greater Manchester to get it started, with Leicester, Luton and Dunstable, Hull and Sheffield to follow by the end of July.
It is hoped the free loans will encourage residents who would otherwise not give cycling a try to get out on an e-bike.
Cycling UK is talking up the ability of the electric assistance on e-bikes to make journeys and particularly hills and other demanding routes easier.
The scheme aims to get 12,000 people e-cycling in 2022 and forms part of the ambitious Cycling and Walking Plan (Gear Change) which has a vision for half of all journeys in towns and cities to be cycled or walked by 2030.
Cycling UK says adapted e-cycles will also be available through the scheme and it is partnering with community cycling organisations to run activities reaching out to those who currently do not ride and marginalised groups.
How do I hire an e-bike in Greater Manchester?
The Greater Manchester pilot scheme can be accessed through Cycling UK’s website here.
Bikes can be hired out from 19 May and the free loans can be for 30, 60 or 90 days.
A range of different machines are on offer, with bikes from Brompton, Trek, Raleigh, Specialized and Muddy Fox all available as options to click on.
Your hired e-bike can then be picked up from the Evans Cycles store on Cheetham Hill Road in Manchester, which is acting as the hub for the pilot scheme.
Budding users can enrol on the scheme from Thursday 12 May either online or by walking into the store.
What has been said about the Greater Manchester launch?
Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK’s chief executive, said: “The e-cycles project is a unique opportunity for Cycling UK to offer free and easy loans of electric cycles to communities across England.
“Each of our chosen locations will have a variety of e-cycles available to suit a variety of participant’s needs.
“At Cycling UK, we understand that taking the first step to start cycling can be a difficult prospect for many people.
“This project will allow them to access an e-cycle without obstacles holding them back, to help them make real changes to their travel habits.”
Cycling minister Trudy Harrison said: “E-cycles are a great way for people with longer or hillier journeys to travel and the £8 million we have provided for this scheme will help make cycling the natural first choice for many journeys – a key Government commitment from the Prime Minister’s Cycling and Walking plan.
“I’m grateful to Cycling UK for delivering this scheme on our behalf, giving people across the UK the opportunity to try something new whilst doing good for the planet.”