November 2019

#SpokesMtg… bike . e . cargo . hire . storage

Summing up the meeting, our QA chair, Dr Caroline Brown, said that the dots are starting to join up…

  • Cargo Bikes start work this month supporting Leith Walk businesses during the 18-month tramline construction
  • Secure Bike storage starts installation on a significant scale by Spring 2020
  • E-bike Cycle Hire starts operation Spring 2020 – and trials are available now
  • West-East route (CCWEL) construction begins 2020 – government inquiry permitting.

If these innovations go well, they will be the pilots for and the inspiration for ‘Scaling Up’ – the theme of our main speaker, Richard Armitage of the European Cycle Logistics Federation. And all the speakers were up for that!

  • Cargo bikes and other small electric vehicles must replace vans and lorries in the city centre – and in Edinburgh’s other town centres, said Cllr Macinnes, Edinburgh’s Transport Convener. And Richard Armitage pointed out that was already happening in some European cities, with 6% of Copenhagen’s huge bike population being cargo bikes.
  • Cyclehoop was up for investigating secure cargo-bike storage for households without a garden or shed and has done a few small scale experiments in London already.
  • Edinburgh Cycle Hire was up for investigating cargo-bike hire in the future, if and when it appeared there was a market for this.


Dave du Feu from Spokes, introducing the meeting

  • 2020 should see an exciting coming together of new developments – onstreet storage (9 years after first agreed by the Council), e-bike hire, new initiatives on cargo-bikes and work on the Council’s first substantial segregated cycleroute
  • Spokes has been promoting cargo bikes for community groups in Edinburgh and Lothian, to increase their visibility. Thanks to a large anonymous donation we now offer up to £1500 towards the cost for such groups – and also a special offer for Spokes members needing a family cargo bike.
  • See Dave’s full set of slides here [ppt]

Richard Armitage, Executive Director of European Cycle Logistics Federation

  • Cargo bikes can and must become the new normal for transport in cities, no longer the exotic
  • This is already the case in Copehagen and other European cities are moving that way
  • For many households the cargo bike (the ‘family bike’?) can replace the ‘family car.’ Councils and government must make this easy … parking, planning permissions, sharing, renting, tax breaks, etc
  • For many businesses the cargo bike can replace some or all van operations. Larger fleets need to include an appropriate mix of different types of cargo bike.
  • Services (telecoms, park maintenance, etc, etc) use many more vans than deliveries and are a major market
  • See Richard’s full set of slides here [pdf]
  • See Meeting Resources below for links to relevant documents

Gavin Rimmer, Business Development Manager, Cyclehoop

  • Cyclehoop makes a wide range of bike parking & storage solutions and have been contracted by Edinburgh to install and maintain onstreet secure bike storage using their ‘bike hanger’ units
  • Two hangers fit one car space, each hanger storing 6 bikes
  • They are extensively used in London and have had a long period of refinement to minimise vandalism potential and maintenance needs, and to maximise space usage
  • 180 bike hangers will be installed in Edinburgh, the bulk of them in Spring 2020. Users will pay £5 per month
  • Cyclehoop has partnered with Bike For Good to maintain the units
  • Spaces will be bookable, and new locations suggested, on the cyclehoop website.
  • See Gavin’s full set of slides here [ppt]

Katherine Soane & Charles Graham, Edinburgh Cycle Hire

  • Edinburgh Cycle Hire is an early step in Edinburgh City Transformation
  • The first year (Sept 2018 – Sept 2019) saw over 100,000 trips, with over 20,000 unique users; and current numbers are well over the same period last year
  • The gender balance, 60:39 M:F, is one of the best among UK bike share schemes
  • Much has been learned from problems encountered in the first year and the system is now much more robust – for example bike stations are now in very public and CCTV’d locations rather than near parks or paths
  • However vandalism and theft are still problems – please report issues as on the slide shown here
  • E-bikes are now here and being trialled before launch in the Spring. You can try them at Open Streets events or by emailing ECH support
  • See Katherine/Charles’s full set of slides here [ppt]

Cllr Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, City of Edinburgh Council

  • The Council has a 2030 net-zero target, a major galvanising factor which has to affect all the Council does, including in transport
  • Major change is not easy, for the public, for businesses, for staff or trades unions; so support and understanding is vital
  • The Council has a huge role as an employer (18,000 staff) and a procurer of goods and services – and it must be an exemplar to businesses and institutions in the city
  • For traffic to be substantially reduced, city centre deliveries must change drastically, with a big role for cargo bikes, and freight hubs away from the city centre
  • Cargo bikes are being used as part of the support package for Leith Walk businesses during tramline construction, which has just begun. This is being extensively monitored and if successful will be used as an exemplar not just for the city centre but Edinburgh’s other local ‘town centres.’


There was then a 60-minute audience QA/ panel discussion chaired by Dr Caroline Brown of The Urban Institute, Heriot-Watt University and co-director of EdFoC.  Points raised included those below – NB we have summarised/combined points discussed, so they are not all in the same order as in the video of the meeting.

  • Cargobike storage
    • GR: Cyclehoop is looking at this for other Councils and could do so for Edinburgh in the future if it was requested, but the priority is getting the basic system installed and dealing with the inevitable teething problems
    • Hangers have been modified internally to store all-ability bikes and two Christiana cargo bikes were fitted in a hanger
    • CG: The council is looking at cargobike parking space at supermarkets, but it can be hard to prevent such spaces being occupied by ordinary bikes, even despite signage.
  • Cargobike hire
    • CG: This is something that Edinburgh Cycle Hire will look at in the future but the priority now is getting the existing system as effective as possible, then bringing in the e-bikes. There is always a lengthy learning period
  • Cargo bike safety, e.g. front-loaders for child carrying
    • RA: They are extensively used in Netherlands
    • No known research, but would have been if were a lot of crashes
    • Users usually go slow and often want to chat to their kids!
  • Cost of cyclehoop hanger rentals
    • £5 per month per space, more costly than many car permits
    • LM: Hangers have to be self-financing, e.g. to cover maintenance costs. Council is raising parking fees for the more polluting car types
  • Bike hanger vandalism
    • GR: With 8 years London experience, they have been modified to be very resistant. Only 0.01% of stored bikes are now stolen per year
    • There is a lot of ‘community ownership’ where locals spontaneously look after & even clean their hanger – Cyclehoop tries to encourage this.
  • Tenement hanger ‘ownership
    • LM: The onstreet hangers cannot be allocated to a particular building – anyone can apply for a space – but new hangers could be installed onstreet nearby if enough local demand
    • GR: In principle a tenement could buy their own hanger to site on their own land, but the capital cost is very high
  • Leith Walk business-support cargo bike scheme
    • LM: Scheme begins Monday 18 November, when tramline work begins in Constitution Street. An 18-month construction period is planned
    • Many discussions held with local businesses, and 4 cargo bikes will be available initially, but this can be increased if experience shows the need. It is highly experimental and being monitored carefully
    • RA: He had visited the Constitution Street cargo bike depot and was seriously impressed with the enthusiasm and professionalism of the planned operation and monitoring, which already includes ‘before’ data
    • The scheme is innovative and will be of great interest to other cities – RA will be back to see how it is going
    • This is the perfect time for such a trial scheme because the 18-month tramline works mean that local businesses have no choice but to rethink their operations, so it is an ideal point at which to offer innovative options
    • The scheme can greatly raise the awareness of cargobike potential. Please support it on social media or other ways, for example tweeting pictures of the cargobikes in use.
  • Should cargo-bike operation be regulated?
    • RA: It is a new and developing industry with rapid change and learning – regulation could be disastrous and even kill it off
    • Operators are of course already subject to much regulation, for example employment law and road traffic law.
  • Edinburgh Cycle Hire vandalism problems
    • KS: The vandalism is almost exclusively by very young people. As well as police involvement, and many steps to make the system more resilient, ECH is beginning outreach in hot spots to encourage more sense of community ownership
    • We in the audience can help – see the advice in the 15.11.19 Spokesworker issue
    • CG: Vandalism of bike share schemes increased in bike share schemes right across the UK in 2019 – the reason is not known.
  • Cargo bikes unsuitable for some purposes – e.g. builder materials
    • RA: The pie chart in RA’s presentation showed that cargo bikes were suitable for and used for a wide range of purposes
    • A business which needs to deliver very heavy or bulky materials can have a mixed fleet, using cargo bikes where appropriate – for many businesses that is the majority of trips so that, for example, it might have 4 cargo bikes for every van.


Speakers were asked for brief final thoughts…

  • Cyclehoop
    • Gavin said he’d be taking back the ideas from the meeting and was looking forward to the coming Edinburgh installation
    • Gavin welcomes comments and questions …
  • Edinburgh Cycle Hire
    • Charles had got useful ideas from the meeting, and promised to look into cargobike hire as a future possibility
    • Anyone with questions, or wishing to try an ebike at the depot, please email…
  • Cycle Logistics
    • Richard said it was great to hear so much discussion of the practical issues, which showed that cargobikes are being taken seriously as part of the solution for the city
    • Awareness and visibility are vital to help foster ‘scaling up’ of cargobikes and e-bikes. Try them, use them, publicise them
    • Support Lesley Macinnes and the Council – to change public perceptions and the terms and conditions of staff is a superhuman task.
  • Edinburgh Council
    • Cllr Lesley Macinnes was delighted at the enthusiasm and ideas coming forward at the meeting
    • Major change is a tough battle, even within the Council. For example, to introduce cargobikes for park maintenance (as she aims to do) is not just a matter of buying the hardware, but means difficult changes and negotiations on processes, staff terms and conditions, procurement, etc, etc
    • The City’s Transformation process, of which tonight’s themes are an important element, is complex and difficult – but is really worth doing to achieve a better and healthier city.
  • QA chair
    • Caroline later tweeted a thread of her conclusions, including…
    • It was interesting to hear about developments at both European and neighbourhood scale. In the context of the climate emergency we need both
    • It is really exciting to see many of the things we have been campaigning for starting to happen.

Meeting resources

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