Multi-modal Journey Hubs

Response from PCyC to Multi-modal Mobility / Journey Hubs consultation – 15/03/2021

Plymouth Cycling Campaign (PCyC) has been kept informed of spending proposals for the TCF/2 bid allocation but have only recently seen outline plans of the proposed hubs network.
PCyC supports most of the proposals in principle. Multi-modal hubs could help Plymouth move towards more sustainable transport, meet its carbon reduction targets, improve air quality and promote healthier lifestyles. With the planned growth of the Plymouth city region it is clear that we need to rethink how we travel within and into the city.
However, multi-modal hubs and other hi-tech initiatives are no substitute for a better infrastructure of coherent, largely-segregated cycle routes.

Vehicle EV charging points and car clubs
Although switching  to electric cars will not solve road congestion or make roads safer for cyclists, car clubs /pool cars may have an effect on the total number of vehicles on the road. Widespread use of electric cars will have a significant impact on carbon reduction, air quality and traffic noise and solar charging points make them virtually cost-free to run.
The Project Initiation Document states ‘Up to 100 Car club vehicles will be delivered across the 50 mobility hub sites’.
PCyC will not comment on the EV proposals in detail, but they throw up more questions than answers:
1. Many Plymouth properties have no driveway or parking space. Will charging hubs be also available for privately owned electric cars and how will they be paid for /managed?

2. ‘The car club provider will be responsible for providing the vehicles and delivering a high quality service’. –  How would the allocation of car club vehicles be managed, as demand will be influenced by time of day, work patterns, season and the weather?

3. EVs and cyclists safety – electric vehicles are almost silent, so either a continuous audible warning or one generated by proximity would improve safety.

E-bikes and cargo bikes
‘500 e-bikes will be delivered across the mobility hubs with further docking stations allowing for flexible travel throughout the network’
PCyC strongly supports the promotion e-bikes. A commonly quoted reason for not cycling in Plymouth is the hilly topography and until someone has properly tried an e-bike and realised that they can tackle hills they are unlikely to buy their own. We understand that e-cargo bikes have been made available to businesses under another scheme and will not be available at hubs.
‘The e-bikes will be part of a docked system’  – Limiting returns to e-bike docks would not create a flexible system. We understand that using geo-location to enable drop offs at other locations has been considered.

The proposals generate many questions:
1. Many routes in Plymouth involve using main roads and crossing intimidating junctions. Inexperienced hirers would need to use routes which avoid these. Will the Plymouth Cycling Map be made available in .gpx format?
2. Who is likely to hire an e–bike and for how long?  Visitors to Plymouth would probably want to visit the city centre, waterfront, Barbican, William Yard etc. These are all within an easy cycling distance, but would people hire them from outer suburbs?

3. Would e-bike hire cater for those who wanted to go on longer rides e.g., to Dartmoor, SE Cornwall, South Hams?

4. Would helmets and locks be included or available to hire? With a form of coronavirus likely to be with us for some time, is sharing helmets feasible? Or will lockers be available to store a helmet at hubs.

5. Demand will be influenced by the perceived confidence to ride an e-bike, time of day, work patterns, season and the weather? Will supply meet demand at busy times and will the hubs remain open throughout the winter with the same level of support?

6. For hirers wanting to include bus or train travel in their journey could folding bikes, either electric or conventional be made available?

EV charging for ferries
At a recent meeting of the Strategic Liaison Group with PCC strategic planners PCyC raised the issues of carrying e-bikes, cargo bikes, trailer bikes, ability cycles and mobility scooters on ferries.
Most of the passenger ferries are difficult or impossible to wheel or carry these types of cycle onto the boats in current use. We understand that most services are operated by private companies. Current ferries should be supported to modify their vessels and all future vessels should be designed to easily board and carry these cycles.
It would be ironic if electric bikes cannot board e-ferries.

Workshop on potential use of e-bike hire by University of Plymouth students

John Abraham PCyC chair participated in the workshop on March 8th run by Resource Futures, an independent environmental consultancy.  The aim was to understand the potential use of an e-bike hiring scheme by University students. One of the workshop’s aims was analyse the factors /attitudes which might influence students in deciding whether to use the scheme. The focus was on University of Plymouth students; it did not consider student at the Art College, City College or Marjons. Again this session threw up many questions:
1. Would students hire an e-bike for a one-way trip to the University or hire it for the day?

2. Given that most students probably live within one mile of the university, would they use hired bikes?