Shared transport charity CoMoUK (Collaborative Mobility UK) has warned that Edinburgh risks being ‘left behind’ other global cities if it continues without a shared bike scheme.
The charity said the city ‘cannot afford’ to jeopardise its international reputation as rivals promote communal cycling as a sustainable way for residents and visitors to get around.
It has urged councillors not to abandon efforts to replace the Edinburgh Cycle Hire Scheme (ECHS) after city council officials recommended dropping an investigation into options for revival.
CoMoUK has highlighted that there are more than 40 operating or planned programmes across the UK with 2.8 million members as of March this year.
Edinburgh’s scheme ran from 2018 to 2021 and proved successful before coming to an end. Research by CoMoUK found cycling in Edinburgh increased sharply following its introduction with a 70% rise in the number of trips through the scheme in 2019.
CoMoUK recently issued guidance to councils urging them to treat bike share as a key part of their sustainable transport offer and ensure there is sufficient funding for it to be developed to support all communities. The charity said potential funding gaps can be plugged through a flexible allocation of capital funding.
It also recommended councils explore using revenue raised from policies such as developer contributions, government funding pots and any clean air zones. Sponsorship, corporate membership, and advertising can also help raise revenue.
Separate research by CoMoUK found the growing popularity of bike share schemes across the UK has reduced car mileage for each user by an estimated 3.7 miles every week.
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.
“Edinburgh has a well-deserved international reputation for its festivals, arts and culture, and should not be left behind on the world stage when it comes to sustainable transport. Shared transport such as bike share schemes, along with car clubs, demand responsive transport and e-scooters, are the key to achieving our goals.”