Forth Environment Link’s drive to get locals moving is picking up the pace thanks to the delivery of 16 new e-bikes just in time for Bike Week (8-16 June).
The electric bike fleet, funded through Transport Scotland’s e-Bike Grant scheme administered by Energy Saving Trust, will allow community organisations, businesses and individuals across Forth Valley to try out an e-bike for free. With trials lasting from 3 days up to 3 weeks.
Stirling Active Travel Hub Project Officer, Stephen Willis said: “Thanks to the Energy Saving Trust, we now have a wide range of different types of electric bikes that you can take-away to try for free. There are foldaway bikes which you can store and transport easily, hybrid bikes which are great for commuting, step-thrus which don’t have a bar making them great for people with mobility issues and mountain bikes for those who want to head off road. But we’ll not just be lending the bikes out. We’ll be on hand to give advice and support on how to use electric bikes, how to look after them and most importantly how much fun they are to ride!”
E-bikes have both a battery and a motor, so riders can select different levels of ‘assist’ when pedalling to make journeys easier and help them tackle longer distances or hilly routes.
Ellie Grebenik, Senior Programme Manager at Energy Saving Trust said: “Our e-Bike grant fund supports public and third sector organisations to enable behaviour change through the increased uptake of sustainable and active travel, in the form of e-bikes, e-cargo bikes, and adapted bikes. This latest award will allow Forth Environment Link to make e-bikes available to a wide audience, facilitating access to employment, education, and local services. We hope the trials will lead to a shift to sustainable and active travel, helping reduce road transport emissions and improve local air quality, as well boosting the health of individuals.”
With cycling 50 miles costing as little as 5p in electricity if charged at home, e-bikes are already proving a hit across Forth Valley.
E-BIKE CASE STUDIES
Forth Environment Link has lent out e-bikes over 350 times in the past year and user feedback has been hugely positive with many locals changing their travel habits for good.
Andrew Morris from Menstrie commutes to his workplace at Eurocentral by e-bike, over 32 miles each way! He converted his own bike to electric after borrowing an e-bike from Stirling Active Travel Hub:
“I found the e-bike trial hugely eye opening to the potential of these bikes. I am an experienced cyclist and have used an e-bike a couple of times in the past but never for my very hilly 52km (each way) cycle commute, I had assumed was just too far. I was wrong. Using the trial bike made clear to me how capable an e-bike can be and I quickly realised what a game changer these things could be for sustainable transport. They are that good! The trial reassured me that an e-bike conversion kit for my existing bike, which I had been considering for a while, would be a sensible investment. The kit has given me the benefits of an electric assist without having to buy a new bike and it is so discrete most people wouldn’t know I have a motor helping me out. I had previously only managed to cycle to and from my work on a couple of occasions in the last five years. Now I can quite realistically do half my commuting by bike!”
Andy Hunter from Ullapool tried out an e-bike on a recent visit to Stirling:
“I suffer from chronic lung disease and have nerve damage in my back resulting in weakness in my left leg, this prevents me from walking or cycling any distance. I was sceptical about the electric bikes thinking I wouldn't be able to manage one or that it would be more like being on a moped which wouldn't feel like exercise. But when I tried one, I found I could manage and that I was pedalling so I was exercising my legs. I can see myself using this method of transport in the future.”
Mairi Osborne from Blair Drummond has gone on to buy an e-bike to replace one family car:
“I found the e-bike trial really useful. We were keen to see if we could replace a second family car with one (or two) e-bikes. This trial helped in making that decision. It does look like a feasible alternative for transport, so we have now bought an e-bike. I live a few miles out of Stirling in Blair Drummond, so the electric motor is great to speed up the journeys to and from town and to places like Tillicoultry and Menstrie where I go to various events.”
Jason Clark (pictured above) from Deanston borrowed an e-bike to commute to work in Stirling:
“I tried an e-bike in April. Beforehand I was a little unsure, was it a gimmick? However, after 5 minutes on the e-bike it was fantastic, such a revelation. I used it to commute to work in Stirling from Deanston 3 or 4 times in that week, it takes the edge of any hills and means you can arrive at the office at ease and without any sweat or red faces. You still pedal, it’s not a scooter, so you still get the health and fitness benefits. The e-bike was brilliant and I'm now seriously looking into buying one! I would encourage anyone to give it a go, even if they have not cycled for years.”
Karen Van De Graaf from Falkirk Grahamston, has borrowed a bike to transport children and art!
“My main role is a homemaker, which includes taking my two children to school and spending a lot of time running about! I’m also a part-time artist. This bike has changed my life and I really, really want one of my very own. It has saved me time and energy; and has enabled me to get more done (both when doing chores about town and when working). I was surprised to hear a lot of people suggesting electric bikes are for older people, or for people who are lazy, or unfit. Well I say ‘hurrah for electric bikes’, I'm an active woman in my 40's, who goes most places by bike or on foot, but I really loved making life easy for myself with the turbo boost button to get up hills. One of the key benefits of the electric powered bike was that I was simply able to get places faster than normal. It leaves me with enough leg power to get dinner on the table at the end of the day, even when I’ve been out cycling to the Falkirk Wheel and back! The time its saves, also means I can stop off to get some great shots for future paintings. I also loved the basket at the front which can hold 50lbs of weight. When my kids ask, "Mummy can you carry my school bag?", I say "Yes, no problem - pop it in the basket!"
FREE BIKE WEEK EVENTS
Stirling and Falkirk Active Travel Hubs will also be running a range of free events (from free led rides to repair workshops) for Bike Week, where locals can be one of the first to try out the new e-bikes. Full details can be found on Facebook.
8 June: Cycle Falkirk led ride (free e-bikes) to the Kelpies – meet at Falkirk Active Travel Hub at 10am.
11 June & 13 June: Roadside Repair session at Falkirk Active Travel Hub 6:30pm to 9pm – wheel removal, puncture repair, fixing a broken chain, basic gears and brakes tuning.
15 June: Bike Week Big Day 10 – 4pm. Includes Bike Brunch from 10am and led rides (free e-bikes) to the Falkirk Wheel from 12pm.