Johnson sparks up 'Boris bike' scheme with e-bike roll out
Londoners to get taste of electric motor-assisted cycling next year; mayor wants Met to use them too
BORIS JOHNSON is to put extra spark into London's cycle rental scheme by introducing battery-powered electric bikes in some of the capital's more hilly areas. The London mayor also wants to equip police with 'e-bikes' of their own to help them chase criminals into areas inaccessible to cars.
The London Evening Standard says "several hundred" of the battery-powered commuter bikes will be available in London next year as part of a pilot scheme. The £700 cycles will be based outside Finsbury Park tube station where docking stations will double as battery chargers.
E-bikes, which are already popular in cycle-friendly nations such as Holland, use a battery-powered electric motor to supplement the power supplied by the pedals. No licence, equipment or insurance is needed to ride one in the UK.
Johnson expects Londoners to use the bikes supplied as part of the pilot scheme to ascend the more challenging gradients in areas such as Muswell Hill and Crouch End.
"E-bikes are already big on the continent as they take the puff and pant out of cycling," Johnson told the Standard. "Once again, London leads the way in Britain with new cycling innovations – and the elevated latitudes of Haringey are perfect for this trial."
While the e-bike scheme will never be as big as the so-called 'Boris bike' system, Johnson hopes it will give Londoners a taste for electric motor-assisted cycling and encourage some of them to buy their own cycle.
The mayor also wants to equip Met police officers with electric mountain bikes to "help in the fight against cycle-mounted crime such as mugging", the Standard says. The German-built Haibikes cost about £1,000 each and can climb stairs and go over rough ground as quickly as a normal bike can travel on a road.
The Haibikes will allow police to "chase criminals into places cars cannot go and make officers more mobile," the paper says. Barclays, which sponsors London's conventional bike hire scheme, has been given first refusal on naming rights for the e-bike scheme. ·