Co-bikes electric bicycle stations coming soon to Heavitree and Pinhoe in Exeter and Cranbrook

A pioneering electric bicycles scheme is set to expand – with new stations in Exeter and Cranbrook due to open soon. 

Co-bikes managing director Mark Hodgson told city traffic chiefs this week that sites in Heavitree, Pinhoe and the new East Devon town are on their way.

The not-for-profit social enterprise already has facilities in Exeter at County Hall, the Civic Centre, St David’s, Central and Digby and Sowton railway stations, and the University of Exeter’s Streatham and St Luke’s campuses.

A Heavitree High Street site is due to open in the week commencing November 18.

A facility at Cranbrook Younghayes Centre will be launched the following week.

Mr Hodgson also told the Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee on Monday that Pinhoe station could be added to the list by the end of the year. Groundworks are due to begin in December.

He added that the Co-bikes and Co-car scheme has already seen 150 vehicles taken off the road.

The long-term ambition is to get hundreds of bikes on Exeter’s streets – and to have an electric car available within five minutes’ walk of everyone in the city.

Mr Hodgson said that, since a re-launch of the scheme in early September, more than 1,200 trips had been made.

Some 450 members have signed up to the scheme, with thousands more expected to follow.

Further sites across the city will follow in 2020 – and could include Ikea and the Met Office.

Councillor David Harvey said he was delighted that he could tell the people of Pinhoe they are set to get an early Christmas present in the form of the Co-bikes station.

Committee chairman Cllr Yvonne Atkinson asked why, so far, only the east of Exeter has benefited from the scheme.

Mr Hodgson said it was because the rollout was supported by a bid from infrastructure funding relating to that part of the city, but Co-bikes is keen to expand to the west.

He added: “We are interested in sites around Marsh Barton and have bids in at the moment for the area and for St Thomas railway station.

“We are keen to identify more sites with a hope of different sites in the west end of the city, but one of the things slowing down the rollout is finding sites that are suitable for electrics, but we will be putting 20 more electric cars into Exeter next year.

“We have already taken 150 vehicles off the road because of this but eventually we want hundreds of bikes in Exeter.

“Our ambition is have bikes and cars within five or 10 minutes of everyone in Exeter, as unless they are near you, people won’t necessarily use it. We are not saying that everyone will get rid of all their cars, but we want access of everyone to this within five minutes.”

Cllr Andrew Leadbetter added that the Estuary League of Friends would be willing to help fund the scheme in Topsham.

Cllr Sue Aves called for there to be a site incorporated as part of the new bus station.

Cllr Rob Hannaford added: “We are a national leader in this and we need to shout about it.

“We have got to get people out of cars, and we need a more reliable bus service, so we have to push this more and more.

“Exeter is expanding but we have a Roman road network.”

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