Community E-cargo Bike Hire Scheme

Unfortunately Portsmouth streets are still clogged with traffic and air pollution. One way to reduce the number of cars and vans on the road is to persuade families and businesses to use electric-cargo bikes instead.

This is why the Board decided to set up a community E-Cargo bike crowdfunder with partners, Southsea Cycles and Sustrans, which raised £5,000: enough money to buy two bikes.

The membership and rental charge has been kept cheap so as to be price competitive with buses and taxis. The idea is to give people a taste of how useful and enjoyable e-cargo bikes are.

Where are our community e-cargo bikes located?

Our first bikes are stored at Southsea Cycles on Albert Road, and available for hire by simply phoning, emailing or popping into the shop. if you cycle there, they will store your bike, whilst you have the e-cargo bike out to hire.

How much does it cost to hire our e-cargo bikes?

We want to make it affordable for people on low incomes:

  • Membership is currently: £12 for three months, £24 for six months or £46 for a year.
  • Once you are a member it costs £2 for two hours, £5 for half a day and £8 for a whole day to hire the bikes.
  • This is a not-for-profit scheme and any money left over after maintenance, insurance and admin costs will go towards buying another bike: we eventually want to put one in every community centre in Portsmouth.

What can e-cargo bikes be used for?

Family life

Families use them to take their kids to school and the beach, their pets to the vets, do big weekly shops, move stuff, help with foodbank deliveries, etc.

Many of the families locally who have e-cargo bikes, told us they sold their second car to buy it, and love the cost savings, and less hassle sitting in traffic and parking.

E-cargo bikes for tradespeople and self-employed work

Increasingly plumbers, electricians etc in crowded city centres are finding it quicker, easier and cheaper to get about with a e-cargo bike, rather than a van. We want to start that trend here in Portsmouth.

Helping OAPs and those with mobility issues

Image: Natalie Chirchietti, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In many countries e-cargo bikes are used like a rickshaw to help those with mobility issues to get out and about. Locally the charity Cycling Without Age takes older adults out on rides for free to combat social and economic isolation. One resident, Roger Knight, has adapted his bike to take his mum and dad out for rides.

Why else are e-cargo bikes great?

E-cargo bikes deliver faster than vans in inner cities

Locally, businesses such as Wild Thyme Food Coop, CycleWorks, Package Free Larder, UK Flyers and others got a grant from Portsmouth City Council to purchase an e-cargo bike. Many firms are now turning to these bikes for last and first mile deliveries, as the evidence stacks up that they can drop off more parcels per hour than vans, and avoid all the issues with parking and congestion.

E-cargo bikes free up road space and parking space

The number of vehicles registered to Portsmouth addresses rises by about 2000 every year, but there is no space to increase the width or number of roads. This means journey times and congestion gets worse every year.

E-cargo bikes can use bike lanes and thus ease congestion. They can also be parked on pavements.

E-cargo bikes reduce air pollution and carbon emissions

We have an air pollution crisis in Portsmouth: with many roads over the legal limit. The government has now imposed a Clean Air Zone and charges on polluting vehicles. We also have a global climate emergency with the UN stating we need to cut emissions significantly within 8 years, or risk unstoppable warming.

E-cargo bikes produce no air pollutants such as NO2, and reduce carbon emissions by 90% compared to diesel vans.

What’s the long term vision?

Ultimately we want to persuade residents with second cars to sell them and purchase a cargo bike instead.

We also recognise that many people live in flats and won’t be able to store a bike, and so we want to offer very cheap hire of such bikes from community centres all round the city. Instead of doing your weekly shop in a car or taxi: we want folk to try using an electric cargo bike: it will work out cheaper than driving, with none of the hassle of parking.


For enquiries about membership pop into Southsea Cycles shop, message their Facebook page or phone them on 02392 297 549. Also check out this webpage.

Please let us know your experience of hiring and using the bike; in particular share any photos and positive experiences with us via email.