In collaboration with HumanForest Sutton Council has launched a dockless electric bike hire scheme in the borough to provide residents and visitors with Sustainable Transport options for their journeys and to meet one of the aims of the current Sustainable Transport Strategy to increase the number of local journeys made by cycle rather than by private motor vehicle. The scheme launched on 22nd September with 120 ebikes in each borough and the potential to increase the fleet size. This is a year’s trial with the option to extend the contract for a further two years. This is a year’s trial with the option to extend the contract for a further two years.

Users register to use the scheme via the HumanForest app and receive up to 10 minutes free use each day.  Additional use time costs 17p per minute and “usage bundles” are available to reduce this. HumanForest is launching a discount scheme for NHS employees and students. 

Currently, HumanForest operates successful schemes in Islington, Hammersmith & Fulham and the City of London. We understand that Merton Borough is considering a scheme too.

Sutton’s Sustainable Transport and Commissioning team has been working with Human Forest to identify locations where dockless e-bikes are deployed (for users to collect) and where users may also finish their ride. Known as “green bays’, ebike users are not charged for parking the e-bike in a “green bay” as a way of encouraging responsible use. E-bikes parked outside of the “green bay” are charged £1.50 (even if the user is within their daily 10 minute free allowance).  Users who consistently park inconsiderately incur a penalty charge and repeat offenders may be banned from using the scheme.

Currently, all bays are on the footway and it is the borough’s intention to move some e-bike parking to the carriageway, once usage patterns become known and we receive funding from TfL. HumanForest is currently negotiating with Rail Operators and NHS trusts to use their land as “green bays” and, whilst this was not in place on the launch day, 22nd September, we are aware that the Royal Marsden has asked to host “green bays”. HumanForest is also talking to organisations representing those who may be adversely affected by inconsiderately parked ebikes e.g. Sutton Vision, Sutton Talking Newspapers, Sutton Living Streets and  Wheels for Wellbeing.

Geo-fencing technology is used to define the “green bays” and users will see them on the HumanForest app  Bays which are found to be inconvenient to residents or visitors will be removed within 5 working days although, as these are “virtual”, we anticipate that urgent requests can occur sooner.  Hire ebikes have a regulated maximum speed of 15.5 miles per hour but they can be programmed so that the motor slows in certain locations e.g. the pedestrianised sections of Sutton High Street and they can be excluded from locations where cycling is not permitted. This is work in progress which will continue during the course of the contract and we welcome resident feedback initially or during the course of the contract.

HumanForest were appointed as the supplier for the ebike hire scheme following a procurement exercise in spring 2022 for both Sutton and Kingston Councils. This is a “concession contract” and as such the boroughs do not pay the operator, who makes revenue from bike hire and “in-app” advertisements”.

Sutton Council web pages contain links to report incorrectly or inconveniently parked ebikes and this information will be continuously updated with information on the Human Forest.  

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