Briefing – Edinburgh’s Cycle Hire Scheme

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Below is a brief from Council Officers on Edinburgh’s cycle hire scheme. 


Information Briefing
We are reaching out to you to ensure that you have the relevant information to hand, should your constituents have any questions and to inform you of the process we have been through to get to where we are today.

Scheme Context:
The Concession Agreement between TfE and Serco was signed on 10 May 2018, after which Serco commenced the activities it had set out in its bid to implement. The Scheme’s aim is to launch with a meaningful and coherent network of locations and a fleet of quality UK manufactured bikes with an innovative hybrid technology platform in September 2018.

You may have noticed that ‘Your Bike’ is presented on the current test bikes in the City. ‘Your Bike’ is Serco’s new consumer facing cycle hire brand, and underpins our aspirations to make cycling accessible to all.

As you will have seen we have now announced that Just Eat are sponsoring the Edinburgh Cycle Hire Scheme for the next 3 years. This scheme from launch will be known as Just Eat Cycles, with associated branding replacing the current ‘Your Bike’ branding on the bikes.

As part of the scheme development process, Serco’s team engaged with City Planners to determine the exact approach needed to install cycling infrastructure onto the city streets.

Critical criteria included ensuring locations are attractive to the 4 key markets TfE identified:

  • People who live in Edinburgh.
  • People who work in Edinburgh.
  • People who study in Edinburgh.
  • People who visit Edinburgh.

Serco proposed a network comprising between 40 and 80 locations around the City that would ultimately support a scheme of 1000 bikes by the end of 2018. To support 1000 bikes, industry best practice suggests a ratio of circa 1:1.6 capacity is required (c.1600 hire scheme spaces) to enable bikes to move freely around the network and provide an excellent customer experience. This is quite a challenge in a compact and historic city like Edinburgh. This volume of Cycle Hire Point spaces will be delivered through a mixture of physical and virtual Cycle Hire Points. The initial roll out for the official launch on Monday 17 September will predominantly consist of physical Cycle Hire Points.

As part of the Concession Agreement Serco will also be providing 100 e-bikes during 2019. The physical Cycle Hire Points will also be able to accommodate these bikes, ensuring compatibility for all bikes across the whole scheme.

Planning Approach
Serco took advice and guidance from TfE, CEC City Spacial Planning Team, CEC Active Travel Team, CEC Roads Department, CEC Locality Managers, Edinburgh World Heritage and other Stakeholders, either directly or through feedback to TfE, to establish the appropriate route to progressing formal approvals for putting infrastructure on the streets.

This is the first time Edinburgh has procured and delivered this service, so there was no established route to permissions for cycle hire infrastructure. There are two types of Cycle Hire Points: physical and virtual. Physical Cycle Hire Points are created using a modular approach with no invasive construction requirements. Virtual Cycle Hire Points will be clearly marked on the ground and will be ‘geo-fenced’ to ensure that bikes cannot be ‘off-hired’ outside of the defined Cycle Hire Points. This solution is designed to allow the Scheme to react to demand requirements over the long term. Serco has been very impressed, however, at the good will and positive attitude of CEC Officials and Leaders to support the identification of a path to approvals that reflects both the spirit of existing rules to protect the City from poor development, and to enable this exciting new citywide transport solution.

A review of relevant legislation and City byelaws by CEC’s legal team led to agreement to the following planning approach:

  • Locations to be delivered on publicly owned land and not in a conservation area fall within Permitted Development guidelines.
  • Location to be delivered on publicly owned land in a conservation area fall within Permitted Development guidelines.
  • Locations to be delivered on private land, not in a conservation area fall within Permitted Development guidelines subject to Private Landowner consent.
  • Locations to be delivered on private land in a conservation area will require a Planning Application.

Serco agreed with the CEC Planning Officers that the Permitted Development approach could be formally verified through an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness for one site (Lauriston Place).  This can then be used as an exemplar approach that is referenced in other Permitted Development notifications.

For locations that require full Planning Approval, this has been applied for in the standard way. For locations where private landowner approval is needed, we have engaged with each one directly to agree a location and installation approach.

Serco, together with TfE has collaborated to engage with many Stakeholder groups in relation to the development of the cycle hire network. These have included the Access Panel, RNIB, Edinburgh Bike Station, the Universities, Spokes, Edinburgh Leisure, Marketing Edinburgh, large employers, Network Rail, Scotrail, Scottish Government, private developers, Edinburgh Trams and others. We recognise the value of comprehensive community and Stakeholder engagement and it will be an ongoing and integral part of the scheme delivery going forward. To date, Stakeholders have provided valuable insight into where and how the scheme can develop across the city, from our initial network at launch to a ‘long list’ of options running to well over 100 potential future sites.

Focused effort and a supportive environment has enabled Serco to be in a position to reach the launch date on time and with a starting network that will include over 250 spaces at 19 Cycle Hire Points across the city, with others quickly following on to build capacity and reach as the number of bikes also increases between September and December.


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