Scotland's cycling as record 500,000 rides taken on shared bike schemes last year

A record half a million rides were taken on shared bike schemes in Scotland last year, according to new research.

The report by national shared transport charity Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK) shows more than 500,000 hires between September 2022 and September 2023, an average of 1470 hires per day.

That’s up from the record 1326 logged the previous year - despite the overall number of bike share schemes across Scotland falling from seven to five.

CoMoUK said bike share initiatives help boost people’s physical and mental health, save them cash, improve connectivity and cut car miles.

However, COMoUK’s annual report, which surveyed more than 300 active users, also found Scotland is lagging far behind the UK on the provision of e-bikes, with the number available to bike share users falling from 619 to 528 over the past year.

By contrast, across the UK as a whole there are now more than 25,000 e-bikes on the road, more than double the 12,000 available to users in 2022.

With 33,527 active members and 1189 bikes, Glasgow’s bike share scheme remains by far the biggest scheme in Scotland, with smaller programmes in Aberdeen, Stirling, Inverness and Fort William.

Donald Morris, 50, from Inverness, is a regular user of the city’s Hi-Bike scheme, which has been running since October 2021.

He told the Record: “I’ve been using it since it started, sometimes as often as five or six times a week if I need to go into the centre of town a lot.

“I live within 200 metres of a docking station, which makes it completely perfect. I use it to go into town and get my shopping.”

But he added: “If we want these schemes to take off across Scotland, we can’t just rely on people wanting to cut CO2 - you have to make them appeal on a practical level, by making them really convenient and pointing out how cheap and easy they can be.”

Despite increased demand, CoMoUK’s study warned Scotland’s bike sharing industry is now increasingly concentrated in its largest city Glasgow, with initiatives in Dundee, Falkirk and East Lothian closing during 2023 and another scheme in Aberdeen stopping earlier this year.

The most common regular purpose for trips made with shared bikes is travelling to or from work or school, with 34 per cent of users doing so at least once a week.

Huge majorities said using shared bikes boosted their mental and physical health, while 71 per cent said it saved them money.

Richard Dilks, chief executive of CoMoUK, said: “Our research clearly demonstrates the hugely positive impact that bike sharing schemes have in Scotland, both for the people who use them and for society as a whole.

“By offering easy and affordable access to cycling, such schemes improve people’s physical and mental health, cut the number of cars on the road and reduce carbon emissions.

“Currently Glasgow dominates the bike sharing scene in Scotland, so local leaders in other cities would be wise to follow the admirable example it has set.”

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