Cycling UK’s new e-cycle initiative offers free bike loans for up to three months

'Cycling made e-asy' targets reluctant cyclists with pilot schemes in five locations across England

Cycling UK launches e-cycles scheme across England
(Image credit: Cycling UK)

Cycling UK have launched a new programme that encourages “the nation” to try e-cycling, offering free long-term loans and taster sessions across England. E-cycles encompass both e-bikes and e-trikes.

‘Cycling made e-asy’ is aimed primarily at those who wouldn’t normally consider cycling, with the hope that the draw of both free loans and electric assistance removes some of the previous deterrents.

The national programme will receive up to £8 million in investment from the Department of Transport between 2022-23. In conjunction with partners that include Evans Cycles, Raleigh, Specialized and Islabikes, Cycling UK will provide free access to both ‘try and ride’ sessions and long-term e-cycle loans of up to three months. The scheme is being piloted in five locations across England, beginning in Greater Manchester before heading to Leicester, Luton & Dunstable, Hull and Sheffield. 

“The e-cycles project is a unique opportunity for Cycling UK to offer free and easy loans of electric cycles to communities across England,” says Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK’s chief executive. “ Each of our chosen locations will have a variety of e-cycles available to suit a variety of participant’s needs.”

“At Cycling UK, we understand that taking the first step to start cycling can be a difficult prospect for many people,” she continues.  “This project will allow them to access an e-cycle without obstacles holding them back, to help them make real changes to their travel habits.”

Ride sessions and loans can be booked both online or face-to-face at any of the five locations. Collection points include branches of Evans Cycles as well as community settings, workplaces and schools and colleges. Experts will be on hand to provide advice, training and support, with Cycling UK drawing on its extensive experience, which already sees its behavioral change programmes engage with an average of 51% non-regular cyclists and 27% minority ethnic groups year on year.

The ‘Cycling made e-asy’ programme is part of the Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Cycling and Walking plan’ that hopes to see half of all journeys in towns and cities cycled or walked by 2030. Current statistics provided by Cycling UK show that in 2020 only 2.8% of trips in England were taken by bicycle. However, this is a .8% increase from previous years, with commuting by bike numbers also increasing in 2020 by a whole percentage point to 5%. 

Promoting e-bikes as a way of getting more people to cycle seems sensible if current figures are anything to go by. Electric bikes are growing in popularity with sales in the UK now at an estimated 50-60,000 bikes sold annually. Certainly these figures are in line with the government’s data on ebike imports that show in 2020 50,626 e-bikes entered the UK from the EU and 74,691 from outside the EU, a total of 125,317 units. This was a 23.6% increase from the previous year.

“E-cycles are a great way for people with longer or hillier journeys to travel and the £8 million we have provided for this scheme will help make cycling the natural first choice for many journeys – a key Government commitment from the Prime Minister’s Walking and Cycling plan,” says Cycling Minister Trudy Harrison.

“I’m grateful to Cycling UK for delivering this scheme on our behalf, giving people across the UK the opportunity to try something new whilst doing good for the planet.”

For more information on Cycling UK’s ‘Cycling made e-asy’ scheme visit cyclinguk.org

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Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for over twenty years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He fell in love with cycling at an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a passionate follower of bike racing to this day as well an avid road and gravel rider.