Call to make Exeter pioneering ‘zero-emissions transport city’ and ‘South West electric bike capital’

Progressive Group councillors in Exeter have called for it to become a ‘zero-emissions transport city’ and the ‘electric bike capital of the South West’.

The quartet of representatives have written to the leader of the city council urging him to collaborate with County Hall chiefs on the matters.

They say that, if the authorities work together and take advantage of a new ‘Gear Change’ government cycling and walking strategy, Exeter could become a pioneer.

Whitehall is looking to fund at least one ‘demonstration city’ to create a zero-emission transport system, writes Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Clark.

This would involve extensive bike lanes, an all-electric bus fleet and steering petrol and diesel vehicles away from the city centre.

Progressive Group leader, Liberal Democrat Councillor Kevin Mitchell, said: “The Government is looking for at least one small- to medium-sized city to become a demonstration city.

“Exeter is therefore ideally placed to seize the opportunity offered by the Government’s new cycling and walking strategy.

“We urge Exeter city and Devon county councils to work together to put forward a bid to secure funding so we can demonstrate how zero-carbon emissions from transport can be achieved.”

Green Party councillor Diana Moore added: “Exeter and Devon councils have both declared climate emergencies.

“Transport is now responsible for the largest chunk of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“This presents a huge challenge to meeting Exeter’s Net Zero 2030 pledge. But we have a great opportunity to become a city where shared and active forms of travel are cheaper, quicker and more convenient than private car ownership.”

The Progressive Group also want to see Exeter become the ‘electric bike capital of the South West’.

Independent Cllr Jemima Moore, who represents the Newtown and St Leonard’s ward, said: “We all know Exeter has quite a few hills!

“This can put some people off cycling. But electric bicycles make light work of our sometimes challenging terrain.

“Sales of electric bikes are surging across Europe and research suggests they are replacing car journeys and car ownership, especially among young people.

“Expanding electric bike hire schemes and offering interest free loans to help people purchase electric bikes, for example, could help usher in a transport revolution and make Exeter the electric bike capital of the South West.”

Exeter City Council leader Cllr Phil Bialyk has said he is keen to progress the idea further and is in talks with transport authority Devon County Council about taking it forward.

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