Earlier this week, Leicester's Santander Cycles e-bike hire scheme came to an abrupt halt after the company that ran it was declared insolvent. Coincidentally, since the start of the week it’s been possible to get free long-term e-bike loans via Cycling UK’s (somewhat awfully named) making cycling e-asier.
The Leicester Mercury reports that Ride On Scotland halted the city’s Santander scheme last week, initially telling users that the issue was temporary. However, the firm has now ceased trading.
A council spokesperson said they were in contact with the liquidators to understand what happens next and to try and ensure the bikes and infrastructure are preserved.
Meanwhile, a ‘making cycling e-asier’ community hub opened on Monday in Town Hall Square. Free one-month loans are now available to book, and skills and confidence sessions will be rolled out in the coming months.
Leicester bookings can be made here from Evans Cycles, Leicester Cycle Circuit and Leicester Bike Park.
Skills and confidence sessions are also available.
“Cycling UK is delighted to launch the first Making cycling e-asier community hub in Leicester,” said the project’s deputy director, Jenny Box. “Working with local projects across England allows us to reach a wide audience, to encourage them to try using an e-cycle for short journeys.
“Making cycling e-asier's loans and skills and confidence sessions are completely free. As people struggle with the impact on the cost of living and look for greener ways to travel, we hope we can help many more people to consider e-cycling as an everyday affordable mode of transport.”
Councillor Adam Clarke, deputy city mayor for Leicester, added: “Making cycling e-asier will be a great scheme to complement our work on active travel in Leicester, giving people the chance to take out an extended e-cycle loan and try before they buy.”
Blue Kang, who loaned an e-cycle from Evans Cycles in Leicester said: “Having heard about the scheme, I was so pleased to see it launching in Leicester and immediately signed up. I haven't ridden a bicycle for 45 years whilst driving cars, so now, aged 63 and semi-retired, having an e-bike was helpful in keeping me active, but also for getting me out and about.
"It really gave me the confidence to get back cycling and be conscious and aware of what's happening on the roads. Then I ventured around local cycle routes and saw amazing places which were not visible when driving in a car on main roads. I would honestly and highly recommend this to anyone regardless of age, it's been such a wonderful and enjoyable experience."