E-Bike Scheme in Whitby?

Whitby : Cycling

It seems that Scarborough Borough Council in conjunction with the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership are planning to provide a scheme which includes 19 e-bikes in Whitby. There is no cycle infrastructure so such devices will have to be used on the roads, and the proposed locations for these bikes does not include west side residential at all. This scheme is proposed to be operational by 2024. This follows previous SBC/NYCC active travel actions that appear to choose projects at random based on some funding source being available (rather than using some evidence-based priority list) and then implement it regardless of the fact that the projects chosen would likely not be in the top 10 required for active travel by residents (NYCC P&R Guisborough Rd cycle scheme being another prime example), nor the benefits being even remotely realisable without the more basic projects that are higher priority such as providing an outline cycle infrastructure network first.

E-Bike Whitby Locations

This figure above is directly from the Cenex report. What do you think of this scheme from the perspective of e-bikes? What proportion of people will use a rental e-bike on the road? Likely up to a maximum of 30%, following what all surveys say when asking whether roads are too dangerous to cycle. The report does say that an additional business case for the Whitby scheme will be carried out in September 2022 prior to funding submission, and that the Whitby scheme will also feature “demand responsive transport” (aka an on-demand shuttle bus) in addition to what is shown above … not covered by this news item, which focusses on the active travel aspects. Given that an additional business case will be carried out maybe it will change by November when it is due for release?

Some comments on what is in this report

  • It avoids the real problem which is making such a form of transport safe for the many, rather than the few. Is that because providing a cycle network is hard, and this on the other hand is a simple greenwashing?
    • Making transport safe for the many would need to address the idea of reducing the numbers of cars entering the town hence meaning that having e-bikes on roads would be safer. This does absolutely nothing about that.
    • Making transport safe for the many would need cycle infrastructure, and we are looking at mid-2023 at the earliest for even having an LCWIP.
  • While provision of facilities for east side residents is good, this also has half of the locations in town centre, which means that it will be utilised by tourists (since they do not seem to be for residents only) for such as cycling the CinderTrack; those leisure journeys will not be removing a car journey (the idea behind reduced emissions and congestion). Having one of the locations as the CinderTrack will only reinforce the use of these for leisure, hence no modal shift. West-side residents are completely ignored by the scheme.
  • It will do little to promote a modal shift in the transport habits of this town’s residents, due to there being so few bikes, and so few residential areas involved. An LCWIP would give a much better idea of where such bikes could be made available. Where is the basic journey mapping documentation that defines which journeys this hopes to replace with a bike trip? Saying x% of Green Lane have used an e-bike before doesn’t mean they will use one of these. There is too little detail in the scheme provided to claim specific benefits.
  • The number of bikes means that they may end up largely located in one area, resulting in people not being able to get hold of one without, for example, going into town centre to find one (which people will not do – they need to be available when needed). That and the common issue (from elsewhere in the country) of bikes being dumped in various locations.
  • This scheme is being touted to “reduce congestion”. Since the e-bikes will need to travel on the road, they will, in fact, create slower moving traffic as cars will need to get past the slower moving bike. Until cycle infrastructure is provided this benefit will not be realised.
  • An expansive scheme that covers the whole of the town would be an essential part of making bikes available to all residents once cycle infrastructure is present. Until such higher priority items are tackled, this scheme as presented will not fulfil that role.
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