Exciting news for cycling enthusiasts and eco-conscious commuters as the eagerly awaited e-bikes set to revolutionise transportation in Leeds have been unveiled. The final approval for the highly anticipated public e-bike hire service has been granted, paving the way for its launch this autumn.

Dubbed Leeds City Bikes, this groundbreaking initiative will mark the United Kingdom’s first fully electric public bike hire service, aiming to encourage more people to embrace cycling for short-distance journeys. With a budget of £2.86 million, the scheme will introduce e-bikes at strategically located docking stations across the city centre, as well as along key routes to the south and north-west, with plans for further expansion into other areas.

The comprehensive development and implementation of this pioneering service will be carried out by Beryl, a leading British e-bike hire operator, in collaboration with Leeds City Council. The crucial funding necessary for this project has been made possible through the West Yorkshire Mayoral Devolution deal.

The Transport Committee of the Combined Authority gave the final go-ahead for the scheme at the end of May, fully endorsing the allocated funding. Pending additional financial support, it is anticipated that the Leeds e-bike hire service will serve as a blueprint for similar schemes to be introduced throughout West Yorkshire in the future.

Councillor Helen Hayden, the Executive Member for Infrastructure and Climate, expressed her enthusiasm for this sustainable transport initiative, stating, “We want Leeds to be a city where you don’t need to own a car, and a key part of that is expanding and supporting our cycling network. Cycling is a great way to travel for short journeys, as well as long, and this proposal will make it easier for people to make that change.”

Highlighting the accessibility of e-bikes, Councillor Hayden added, “We know that compared to conventional push bikes, e-bikes are an easier access point for new users, including older people, women, individuals with limited physical strength, those with limited cycling confidence or experience, and those who are looking to take up cycling. I hope that Leeds City Bikes will encourage more people to try cycling without the investment of buying their own bike.”

Tracy Brabin, the Mayor of West Yorkshire, echoed the sentiment of promoting sustainable transportation and seizing economic opportunities. She remarked, “Bringing an e-bike hire scheme to our region was one of my Mayoral pledges, and I’m excited we’re using bikes named after Leeds’ cycling legend Beryl Burton. We want to grow our economy, connect people with opportunities, and tackle the climate emergency. A reliable, inclusive transport network, which puts walking and cycling at the heart of our everyday journeys, is key to this.”

Philip Ellis, CEO of Beryl, expressed his delight in partnering with Leeds City Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to encourage the adoption of sustainable transportation. Ellis emphasised Beryl’s successful track record in collaborating with cities, consulting with communities, and engaging key stakeholders to deliver effective services that contribute to integrated urban transport systems. He highlighted the numerous advantages of e-bikes, stating, “Our vehicles are not only good for the environment, they’re also fun, easy to use, and cost-effective, removing the need for vehicle ownership expenses such as fuel, tax, MOT, storage, parking, and maintenance.”

As Leeds prepares to welcome the arrival of the groundbreaking e-bikes, residents and visitors alike eagerly anticipate the convenience, accessibility, and positive environmental impact that this innovative transportation scheme promises to bring. With hopes for a future expansion throughout West Yorkshire, the introduction of Leeds City Bikes represents a significant step towards a greener and more sustainable future.