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clare rogers riding urbo bike in palmers greenClare Rogers tries out an Urbo bike in Palmers GreenMonday saw the arrival in Palmers Green and various other locations in Enfield borough of the first Urbo "dockless" rental bikes.

Urbo bikes have been available in Waltham Forest since November.  Because Waltham Forest is a neighbouring borough to Enfield, users will now be able to make trips between the two boroughs. Initially, Urbo will provide 100 bikes in Enfield.

Palmers Green resident Clare Rogers, a leading member of Better Streets for Enfield, claims to have been the first person in the borough to hire one of the bikes.  She comments:

"It was easy to use and fun (I'd unlocked the bike in under a minute, unlike the first time I used a Boris bike, which took me about 30!).

"30 minutes is 50p although your first five rides are free. In my 30 mintues I went from Palmers Green to Winchmore Hill and back with time to spare to lock up again (you do this manually).

"The gears took a bit of getting used to - they are hub gears so they don't change while you are pedalling. It was a bit slower/harder than my usual bike, but I don't think they're designed for long distance, and need to be robust. The saddle height was easy to adjust and I loved the little basket at the front with elastics to secure your bag (says 'no passengers' - killjoys!).

"My only quibble was that because the tyres are solid, the ride was a bit rattly. A bit more suspension built in would be welcome."

So how exactly does the system work?  In December Clare wrote an article about Urbo bikes for the Better Streets for Enfield website, which is reproduced below in a slightly abridged form.

Dockless bikes come to Enfield

What, you might ask, are “dockless” bikes? Unlike central London’s famous Boris Bikes – which need to be taken from and returned to special docks on certain streets – dockless bikes can be found, and left, in any public place that isn’t causing an obstruction. In theory, you could get off a train in Enfield, find a hire bike right outside the station, unlock it with an app on your phone, ride it home and leave it parked on your street. You’d only pay for the minutes you used to ride it.

The potential benefits are huge. Better Streets for Enfield is delighted to see hire bikes reach us out here in the suburbs. We hope that more people will feel able to leave their cars at home and use this cheap, convenient and healthy mode of transport to get around – whether to shops half a mile away, or to the station as part of a longer journey. Of course there are potential downsides, such as bikes being left in appropriate places and cluttering up pavements, and this is an issue we would urge the providers and the council to monitor closely.

Last July Obike launched across London – the only problem was that nobody told any of the councils and the bikes were just dumped across the boroughs, including hundreds in Enfield. Some councils took a harder line than others but in the end all the bikes in Enfield were removed. This was a Singapore-based company and by all accounts, while the system for booking the bikes was OK, the bikes were horrible to ride.

Urbo bikes

Jump forward to December 2017 and Enfield have struck a deal with Urbo, an Irish company. Tom McGovern, co-founder of Urbo, said: “The bikes have proved a huge success in Waltham Forest. With this launch in neighbouring Enfield, it will allow us to provide riders in London with even more flexibility. The council has been pioneering the ‘Cycle Enfield’ initiative, which really strikes a chord with Urbo’s values for healthier citizens and better cycling infrastructure, and we are thrilled to support the scheme.”

How does it work and what do the bikes look like?

urbo bike

You'll need a smart phone to download the Urbo App, and then load some credit onto the app to ride the bike. The app will tell you where the nearest bike is. Each bike has a QR code that you will need to scan in. Once you are set up and sent a code you can punch that in the rear lock and the wheel is released. You can then cycle to your destination, find a “destination point” on the App, put the bike on its stand, click the rear lock and walk away. If you can’t find a destination point, then park the bike at any bike stand or place where the bike isn’t an obstacle (or on private property) . In theory they are “geo-fenced” so can only be ridden and locked within Enfield (or Waltham Forest) – the exact boundaries are yet to be decided.

Urbo will have eight wardens on the ground at any one time, to make sure bikes are in good working order and not parked inappropriately. They will also redistribute the bikes around the borough by van as needed.

Links

Urbo announces expansion in London with launch in Enfield

Dockless bikes are coming to Enfield

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