New electric bikes make transport easier and greener
New electric bikes, and associated equipment, are now available for hire in Orkney as part of a green travel project.
The E-bikes initiative is part of the Council’s wider Smarter Choices, Smarter Places project. It has attracted £50,000 from Transport Scotland’s Smarter Choices, Smarter Places programme as well as an additional £10,000 from HITRANS (Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership) to help pay for the bikes and their maintenance.
In addition to the E-bikes, a Green Travel Plan for Orkney will be developed as part of the project which will have a focus on active and sustainable travel. The aim of the Plan is to reduce the number of short journeys made with vehicles by encouraging cycling, walking and the use of public transport.
There are eight electric bikes that are available for hire from the Kirkwall Travel Centre. They come equipped with helmets, hi-vis vests, bike locks, tyre pumps, LED lights, a pannier and a fully charged battery.
Cycle Orkney won the bid as the provider who will manage the day to day bookings of the bikes as well as service and maintain them for the three year project. They were chosen through a competitive tendering process.
Councillor James Stockan, Chair of the Development and Infrastructure committee, said: “This is a great way to get people more active, and a chance for those who normally wouldn’t chose cycling to get out there on bikes. As these E-bikes will assist when needed, we hope that people will take the opportunity to see how easy the bikes are and make use of them.
“We encourage both locals and visitors to hire them. Folks that come to Orkney for a day or a week can utilise the bikes and enhance their visit to Orkney, or locals that want a new experience can have a go and see how easy it is to get around.”
Laura Cromarty, the Council’s Transport Manager, said: “We hope that the electric bikes will encourage a whole new range of people to cycle as they can be used for all levels of fitness and age.
“The outside funding we attracted has enabled us to give people a new and green way to get around Kirkwall and other parts of Orkney.”
Alex Clark, owner of Cycle Orkney, said: “The electric bikes remove the impact of hills and wind, which are the main obstacles to cycling in Orkney. They are pedal assisted bikes that do not have a throttle, so will give you that extra distance for longer journeys. Even cycling up steep inclines, such as Clay Loan, has proven to be do-able without exerting too much effort.
“In addition to collecting the bikes from the Travel Centre, people can arrange for us to drop the bikes off, for example, at the airport or ferry terminal, to collect upon arrival to Orkney.
“We also have a trailer available for hire that can attach to the back of the bikes so families with young children can go out together.”
The bikes are available for hire for £20 per day or £3 per hour and can be booked in advance through Cycle Orkney.