Study sees boost in e-bike use by Cornwall by commuters

A study has helped to encourage more people to use e-bikes for commuting.

In a collaborative trial between the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST) at the University of Bath and Cornwall Council in which 100 residents and 27 council staff were given free Beryl bikes credits for one month, to encourage them to use the e-bike share scheme. The trial ran from May 2023 until July 2023

Uptake of the Beryl bikes surged from 7% to 31% for residents and soared from 29% to 71% for Council staff who used the bikes for commuting, leisure, and exercise.

Almost a third of Beryl bike journeys substituted private car use, resulting in a host of benefits including reducing carbon footprint, providing exercise, improving mental health, easing congestion on the road, and freeing up car parking spaces.

This shift in behaviour is not merely transient; it signifies a lasting change. 61% of residents and 79% of council users expressed their intent to reduce their reliance on cars. Additionally, one in five residents is now contemplating the purchase of an e-bike within the next twelve months, further cementing the shift towards sustainable transportation alternatives.

Lead Researcher Mark Wilson from CAST said: “The participants in this study identified many benefits of using Beryl bikes in terms of convenience, health, reducing carbon emissions, and cycling up steep hills. These findings indicate that shared e-bikes provide an alternative to cars that is reliable, attractive and flexible, particularly for frequent trips such as commuting.”

Richard Williams-Pears, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for transport, said: “Our e-bike share scheme gone from strength to strength with more than 160,000 journeys in Cornwall since it started in September 2022. I’d encourage anyone interested in trying one out to download the Beryl app and give it a go!”

“The findings of this research supports our work in providing the infrastructure to support residents to make more sustainable travel choices. And schemes such as our Workplace Travel Grant can help employers to play their part too.”

To encourage even more people to ditch cars for e-bikes, the researchers recommend Cornwall Council install new bike parking bays close to places of work such as large offices or industrial estates. Another proposal is to establish secure bike storage in workplaces and town centres. Offering free trials of e-bikes at beaches and parks, expanding initiatives like ‘Park and e-bike ride,’ and integrating Beryl bikes with public transport hubs are also recommended. Employers are encouraged to provide shared e-bikes and shower facilities to promote active commuting.

Since its beginnings in March 2022, 302 Beryl e-Bikes have been rolled out in across Cornwall in Falmouth, Penryn, Penzance, Turo, Newquay, St Austell and Saltash

The goal of Cornwall Council’s scheme is to empower people to make healthier and more sustainable travel choices, particularly for shorter journeys and daily commutes.

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