New bikes for green town

IPSWICH'S attempts to go green have been boosted by the purchase of electric bikes by the borough.

IPSWICH'S attempts to go green have been boosted by the purchase of electric bikes by the borough.

The two cycles will be used by council officials to travel around the town without adding to pollution - or making them tired before they reach their destination!

Council workers will use the bikes as a cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative to motor vehicles and hope it will encourage increased cycling among the public.

The council purchased the Sparta Ion M-Gear electric bikes, each of which are equipped with a ten amp battery pack for journeys as long as 26 miles.

For private buyers, the bikes cost £1,429 each - but there are substantial discounts for corporate buyers.

James Fitzgerald, from Suffolk-based Light Electric Vehicles, which distributes the cutting-edge transport bikes, said there were substantial savings to be made.

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He said: “Councils can clock up something like 20 million business miles a year. Even if this mileage is reduced by as little as five per cent through the use of these bicycles, it can make a huge difference.”

Earlier this week the government announced a series of measures to encourage cycling in towns and cities across Britain.

Colchester and Southend in Essex were chosen for extra government help - but Ipswich did not apply to take part in the initiative.

However a leading cycling campaigner called for more action to help get people on their bikes.

Kevin Ablitt, of the Ipswich Cycle Campaign, said: 'There is a great deal that the borough council can do to prepare Ipswich for possible Demonstration Town Status.

“As well as infrastructural changes, publicity is important, as is training people to increase their road confidence.”

What do you think of the bikes? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

SHERELLE and Paul tried out the bikes for a short distance along Russell Road.

They are essentially the same to use as a conventional cycle, but pedalling is much easier - especially, we were told, if you are biking up a hill.

The idea is that you can use them for journeys around town and they enable you to bike there without getting hot and sweaty - or just tired - at the end of the journey.

They are very light, and the motor and batteries are hidden in the frame.

Overall they were simple to use - but a bike is still a bike and many people might feel vulnerable using them in heavy “conventional” traffic.

And whatever protection is fitted, biking in the rain is never fun.

ONE of the demonstration cycles taken to Ipswich by Light Electric Vehicles had a special cover that protects the rider from wind or rain.

The cover changes the appearance of the bike completely, but Catherine Booty from the borough who tried it out had no major problems.

However on the day the cover was tried out the weather was fine, and it was definitely not needed, so it was not possible to judge its effectiveness.