Local co-operative social enterprise Co-bikes launches scheme in Devon city

What is billed as the UK’s first on-street, city-wide hire scheme for electric bikes has been launched in Exeter.

Co-bikes has been launched by co-operative social enterprise based in the city, which already operates the Co-cars car sharing scheme.

The scheme went live yesterday, with three hubs coming on-stream and more to follow, according to the Co-bikes website, each with between four and six bikes on them.

Powered by Nextbike, which is involved in more than 100 cycle hire schemes around the globe – including, in the UK, Bath, Belfast, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Milton Keynes – hire rates cost from 75p per 30 minutes for members who have paid a £60 annual subscription, and £1.50 per 30 minutes for non-members.

Registration is required in advance to be able to hire the bikes, with a membership card issued that can be used at the docking station terminal, and apps are available for both iOS and Android devices to make the process easier.

The initial three docking stations are at Exeter Central railway station, where the scheme was officially launched yesterday, the University of Exeter Forum, and at the University of Exeter’s Forum and Digby and Sowton Park & Ride.

More are planned for other locations including Exeter St David’s railway station, the Civic Centre, Topsham Road, and Honiton Park & Ride.

Mark Hodgson, managing director of Co-bikes, said: “After years of planning, we’re very excited to be launching Co-bikes in Exeter.

 “The Co-bikes electric bikes are changing the way that people travel around the city and are affordable and easy as well as being great fun to ride.

“We all know that our cities are becoming more congested and spread-out, and a travel revolution is needed to help people more easily, quickly, enjoyably and affordably reach their business, study or leisure destinations,” he continued.

“Electric bikes are the catalyst for this revolution and for an easy, enjoyable, electric Exeter.

“Because of their small footprint, they can easily be docked on the street by transport hubs, business and retail parks, and residential communities – helping people link up other transport options in the way that best suits them.”

Funding for the scheme has come from sources including the Department for Transport, Great Western Railway and Devon County Council.

The council’s cabinet member for cabinet member for highway management, Councillor Stuart Hughes, commented: “We’re pleased to have been able to help Co-bikes make this ground-breaking scheme in Exeter a reality.

He added: “The Co-bikes provide a truly sustainable travel choice that makes it easy to get around the city, and opens up the option of travelling by bike to more people.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.