In just over a week since their introduction to the city centre, more than 1,600 journeys have been undertaken on the recently deployed e-bikes available for hire in Leeds.

The initial response to the initiative has been encouraging, with over 1,200 users covering a distance of 375km within the first week. These statistics were disclosed subsequent to an official event commemorating the launch of Leeds City Bikes on Saturday, 23rd September.

Local residents and community organisations gathered at the launch ceremony, alongside dignitaries including Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, Cllr Helen Hayden, Executive Member for Infrastructure and Climate in Leeds, and Phil Ellis, CEO of the bike operator Beryl.

Attendees were welcomed to participate in a range of guided rides along Leeds’ expanding cycling network, which boasts more than 10km of dedicated lanes in the city centre alone.

Leeds City Bikes represents a fully electric public bicycle rental service, administered by Beryl in collaboration with Leeds City Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Councillor Helen Hayden, Executive Member for Infrastructure and Climate, remarked, “It was a splendid day on Cookridge Street, with a diverse array of individuals keen on discovering more about the public e-bike hire service, a longstanding aspiration of this council. We are thrilled to see it come to fruition.”

She continued, “Our aim is for our city to offer a comprehensive and accessible transportation network, and an e-bike programme is an integral component of this, providing swift and eco-friendly travel options across the city centre. We envisage Leeds becoming a city where owning a car is not a necessity, and a pivotal part of this vision is the expansion and support of our cycling infrastructure.”

The initial stage of the roll-out, scheduled for this autumn, will introduce up to 300 bicycles at 40 docking points spanning the city centre and key routes to the south and north-west. Additional bicycles are scheduled for delivery in 2024, with numbers set to double to 600 by spring.

This £2.86 million initiative has been made viable through funding secured under the West Yorkshire Mayoral devolution agreement.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said; “It’s been wonderful to see people using the e-bikes this week and I’m looking forward to seeing even more over the coming weeks and months.

“Changing our travel habits is about having access to different options – and e-bike hire is now one of those.

“A reliable and inclusive transport network, which puts cycling and walking at the heart of our everyday lives, is key to our plans for a stronger and better-connected region.”

Phil Ellis CEO of Beryl, said; “Events like this are vital to the successful integration of any new shared sustainable transport scheme as they give people the chance to come along, ask questions, try out the service and learn about how it can benefit them, both individually and as part of a city region.

“It was great to see so many people come down and show their support and enthusiasm for what we are trying to achieve here; which is to break down the barriers to active travel, improve public health and decarbonise transport by reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions.

“The e-bikes are not only convenient, simple to use and fun, they can also save you a lot of money compared to private vehicle use, removing the costs associated with fuel, parking, tax, maintenance, storage, parking, MOT and insurance.”

Dr Robin Lovelace, Associate Professor of Transport Data Science at Leeds University, said; “Investment in active travel is a win-win-win for health, air quality and the local economy. The new bike hire scheme will let people in the University of Leeds and city communities try out cycling on a secure, well-maintained electric-assisted bike. Combined with investment in active travel and public transport measures, this will enable more trips to be made without the costs of cars.

“The scheme aligns with the University of Leeds Climate Plan and will enable more students to get around on their own steam at a pivotal moment in their lives. E-bikes are a quietly revolutionary technology that can increase transport equality. This scheme will accelerate their uptake across the city.”