A CONGESTION-BUSTING scheme that lets people in Newcastle and Gateshead rent a free electric bicycle is proving a runaway hit.
The initiative, part of the Go Smarter alternative transport campaign, aims to reduce traffic across Tyne and Wear by persuading people to leave the car at home.
Dad-of-four, Andy Hunter of Cochrane Park, Heaton, was one of the first to take the month-long free trial – and liked the electric bike so much he bought one.
“It’s brilliant,” he said. “I do have a normal bike, but I don’t like arriving all hot and sweaty at work.
“The great thing about the electric bike is that you can turn the electric assistance up or down, so I take it easy on the way in and pedal harder on the way home. People tell me I’ve lost weight since I got the bike!”
Ten electric bikes are being provided for hire at The Hub cycling café and shop on Newcastle’s Quayside, and they are proving so popular that there’s already a waiting list.
Andy is a tutor at Newcastle City Learning, and filled in the Go Smarter survey at work.
Go Smarter’s travel experts then prepared a personal travel plan for him and recommended an electric bike trial.
The trial worked so well he bought a second-hand bike online.
“I use the bike to go to work, or to the shops, and I have a trailer so I can take my daughter Izzy to nursery – she loves it,” he said.
“I’m sure we’re saving fuel. We have four children and need a big vehicle so when I’m going somewhere on my own I take the bike, it’s much more economical than driving.”
Go Smarter is run by the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, and provides advice and projects for schools, individuals and businesses as well as offers, including free public transport taster tickets.
Go Smarter to Work delivery manager Peter Henson said: “We’re finding all sorts of people are trying out the electric bikes on our free taster months, which is great – it goes to show how useful they are for everyone.
“As Andy’s experience shows, using an electric bike can not only help reduce traffic congestion and benefit the environment, but can also save you fuel and help you get fit – and they’re great for the school run!”
The electric bicycle free trial month offer is available to employees in the NewcastleGateshead employment area whose companies are taking part in Go Smarter.