People in Yorkshire will soon be able to borrow electric bicycles for free

People in Yorkshire will soon be able to borrow electric bicycles for free, as part of an £8m scheme.

Cycling Made E-asy, which is run by the charity Cycling UK, aims to encourage people who usually avoid cycling to begin using e-bikes.

The charity said the battery-powered bikes enable people of all ages to cycle with assistance, as they make climbing hills and long journeys much easier.

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The Government-funded scheme, which will provide people with the bikes for up to three months, is being piloted in five areas.

The new Government-funded scheme will allow people to borrow an e-bike for up to three months

It was launched in Greater Manchester today and will then be rolled out in Sheffield, Hull, Leicester and Luton and Dunstable by the end of July.

Cycling UK said it is aiming to get 12,000 people to take up e-cycling by the end of the year.

Chief executive Sarah Mitchell said: “The e-cycles project is a unique opportunity for Cycling UK to offer free and easy loans of electric cycles to communities across England.

“Each of our chosen locations will have a variety of e-cycles available to suit a variety of participant’s needs.

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“At Cycling UK, we understand that taking the first step to start cycling can be a difficult prospect for many people.

“This project will allow them to access an e-cycle without obstacles holding them back, to help them make real changes to their travel habits.”

The Government, which is aiming to ensure half of all journeys in British towns and cities are completed by bike or on foot by 2030, has agreed to provide £8m for the project.

Cycling minister Trudy Harrison said: “E-cycles are a great way for people with longer or hillier journeys to travel.

“The £8m we have provided for this scheme will help make cycling the natural first choice for many journeys – a key Government commitment from the Prime Minister’s Cycling and Walking plan.

“I’m grateful to Cycling UK for delivering this scheme on our behalf, giving people across the UK the opportunity to try something new whilst doing good for the planet.”

People can now apply to borrow an e-bike on Cycling UK’s website or find out more about the scheme at Evans Cycle stores.

According to Cycling UK, people will be offered test rides before the take one out on loan. They will also be able to choose from a wide range of e-bikes and some can be adapted to carry cargo or help people with specific needs.

Estimates suggest up to 60,000 electric bikes are sold in the UK each year. Government figures show 125,317 e-bikes were imported to the UK in 2020, that is up 23.6 per cent compared to the previous year.

But data published by the Government also shows the average person in England cycled 88 miles in 2020, spent 12 minutes cycling each week and made just three per cent of all their trips by bike.