Edinburgh advised to re-install bike sharing or be left behind

Edinburgh should replace its bike sharing scheme or it could risk ‘being left behind other global cities’, according to charity Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK).  

The area is now the only city in Scotland, apart from recently inaugurated Dunfermline, without a bike share scheme.  

Edinburgh previously ran a bike sharing scheme, the Edinburgh Cycle Hire Scheme (ECHS), from 2018 to 2021, but councillors recommended dropping an investigation into bringing this back.  

National transport charity CoMoUK is urging the local authority not to abandon the scheme, suggesting that this could ‘jeopardise its international reputation’, as cities across the world are promoting the sustainable travel option.  

peoples walking on street

Data shows there are 3,000 bike share programmes in cities around the globe which are popular amongst tourists, connecting them with attractions and hospitality venues.  

Rachael Murphy, Scotland director of CoMoUK, said: ‘The ECHS was an extremely welcome addition to Edinburgh, with clear social and environmental benefits for all. Bike share supports health and wellbeing, triggers sustainable travel behaviours, cuts car miles and works alongside bike ownership. It also plays an important role in the movement of tourists, allowing them to explore attractions in a leisurely and inexpensive way. 

‘We understand the financial challenges facing local government, particularly during the cost-of-living crisis. But simply abandoning bike share cannot be an option if we are to achieve net zero targets and address the issue of private car ownership, which massively contributes to Scotland’s emissions.’  

The ECHS proved to be successful during its run, with research from CoMoUK showing that cycling in Edinburgh increased following its introduction with a 70% rise in bike trips in 2019.  

Edinburgh City Council has also previously acknowledged that the scheme was the fastest growing in the UK, with 234,500 trips in 2020. 

Recently CoMoUK advised councils to build bike sharing into their sustainable travel offerings by ensuring they had enough funding to do so. 

The charity said extra revenue could be raised through developer contributions, government funding pots and clean air zones, as well as through sponsorship and advertising.  

Bike schemes can have a significant impact on emissions, with research finding that they have reduced car mileage for each user across the UK by an estimated 3.7 miles per week.  

Photo by Ross Sneddon


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