Electric Isle – funding award for Isle of Wight bike scheme

Building on the established ‘Drive Less See More’ ethos, this week the Isle of Wight received another boost with the award of £70,000 for an innovative sustainable transport scheme that will bring 25 electric hire bikes to the Island by the end of 2015.

The Red Squirrel Bikes funding bid was put in by Zoe Stroud, LSTF Visitor Project Manager at Visit Isle of Wight. The new scheme aims to reduce the impact on the environment from visitors and residents alike, add value to the Isle of Wight’s tourism offer whilst benefiting the Isle of Wight economy.

Utilising existing bike path infrastructure, local partners will work together to deliver the scheme using hire points at the strategic locations of Newport, Ryde and Cowes.  By using these locations it is envisaged that the bikes will available to the widest possible audience, including visitors, residents and commuters. It is hoped that this will maximise the potential for mainland commuters to use electric bikes as their main mode of commuting and allow easy access to the excellent cycle routes that connect Isle of Wight towns.

Zoe Stroud LSTF Visitor Project Manager said “We are absolutely thrilled to have been successful with our bid. This is a forward thinking project that will build on existing infrastructure to deliver an innovative service to a new audience. This scheme, coupled the recently awarded electric car share and electric car hire initiatives goes a long way to establishing the Isle of Wight as a pioneer of sustainable travel initiatives.”

It is envisaged that Red Squirrel Bikes will not only provide a boost to the health of local businesses (bike users tend to stop at local shops and services more than car users) but also positively contribute to the physical and mental well-being of Island visitors and residents alike.

By working with partner organisations to launch a Bike Club to encourage commuting by bike it is hoped that there will be an increase in productivity as a result of a newly energised and healthy workforce. Electric bikes promote inclusivity, making cycling accessible to those who may not be physically fit enough to travel using conventional pedal cycles – especially on the notoriously hilly Isle of Wight terrain!

Kevin Smith CEO from the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce comments “This is a great scheme. Only through a range of initiatives like this can the Isle of Wight reduce its carbon emissions, encouraging a cleaner healthier environment. This is good for the environment and the health and wellbeing of residents and visitors alike. From an economic perspective, encouraging employees to adopt alternative travel to work schemes will also assist with increasing a company’s productivity, as a healthy workforce supports a healthy business.”

Simon Dabell, Chair of Visit Isle of Wight, added “I am delighted to see another innovative initiative on the Isle of Wight. The Island has to compete with many other UK visitor destinations and projects such as this scheme will help keep the Island as a leading tourism brand.”