The countryside champions

Press Release: 3rd April 2012

Take a spin on a new South Downs electric bicycle

ebike hire launch At the launch of The South Downs Electric Bicycle Network. Left: Steve Garadis, Electric Bicycle Network; Centre: Nick Heasman, South Downs National Park; Right: Camilla Swiderska, Campaign to Protect Rural England.
Photo Credit: Chris Pearsall Photography.

The South East's first Electric Bicycle Network launched in the South Downs on Tuesday 3 April, giving visitors the opportunity to hire and ride ebikes around the rural lanes and trails of England's newest national park [1].

In the beautiful South Downs National Park, a new fleet of electric bicycles for hire are bringing the simple pleasure of cycling within everyone's reach. It's cycling, but not as we know it. Electric bicycles dismiss headwinds and flatten hills. Now everyone can enjoy the great outdoors on two wheels.

Strategically located hire points have been set up at local businesses in the western end of the national park creating a network that will allow visitors to hire and return their bikes as it suits them. Between hire points are beautiful country lanes, special rights of way, visitor attractions, inns and tea rooms to enjoy. Riders can charge up their ebike at these stop-off points while enjoying the region's finest food or drink. This will increase custom for local outlets, while reducing the overall impact of visitor traffic.

Ebikes benefit a rider by allowing them to cycle in comfort, powering up hills and arriving refreshed at a destination. They are a healthy and near zero carbon way to enjoy beautiful parts of Hampshire and Sussex, and they help promote tourism that preserves the character of the countryside.

Nick Heasman, Western Area Manager for the South Downs National Park, said:

"By hiring electric bicycles people can explore the South Downs' quiet country lanes and help to reduce traffic congestion and pollution in the national park. This is also a terrific opportunity for local attractions, shops and cafes to become charge or hire points and work together to encourage visitors to enjoy the park more sustainably.

The electric bicycles open new parts of the South Downs National Park up to the less agile, allowing more people to access the big hills and experience landscapes that were previously open to only the fittest cyclists."

Camilla SwiderskaCamilla Swiderska
Photo Credit: Chris Pearsall Photography.

CPRE Hampshire has partnered with Electric Travel to provide local management and expertise. Camilla Swiderska, Sustainable Transport Campaigner for CPRE Hampshire, said:

"Last year CPRE ran a trial in Medstead and Four Marks which proved that ebikes are easy and fun to ride and very popular with people of all ages. So we thought that a new pool of ebikes in the National Park would be great for eco-tourism and the wider countryside. The South Downs National Park loved the idea and the national Electric Bicycle Network team has helped us make it a reality. I can't wait to see them finally go into action."

A half-day hire will cost in the region of £15 per person. They are suitable for adults and teenagers, aged 14 and over.

The organisers would welcome applications from more hotels, B&Bs and tourist venues to join the network as Hire Points. This will help the scheme to reach its full potential in the coming months. More charge sites are also needed, where riders can stop, enjoy a drink, food or an attraction whilst their batteries charge.

So far, there are four Hire Points in scenic and strategic locations covering parts of the iconic Shipwright's way, traffic-free Forestry Commission sites, a key national park railhead in Petersfield and heart of the park market town, Midhurst. They are:

  • Quench Cycles, Alice Holt Forest
  • Cyclelife, Petersfield
  • Crank Cycles, Alton
  • Cowdray Farm Shop, Midhurst.

11 Charge Points have also come on board including destinations and attractions such as Jane Austen's House Museum in Chawton, the National Trust at Hinton Ampner, Bramdean, Langrish House Hotel in the Meon Valley and the Rural Life Centre in Tilford near Farnham. A full list of businesses involved is attached.

Steve Garidis, co-founder of the Electric Bicycle Network, said:

"We're thrilled to launch the South Downs Electric Bicycle Network - our first in the South East - in partnership with the South Downs National Park and CPRE. This beautiful area has rightly become protected as a national park, and now practically anyone can explore its scenic lanes and trails on two wheels, whatever their level of fitness and however hilly it is!"

For information about the scheme please visit the website: or telephone local CPRE Hampshire manager, Camilla Swiderska on 07768 123457.

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Notes to editors

  1. The South Downs National Park is the first southern national park to become part of the scheme; following on the success of networks in the Lake District, Peak District and Devon. The South Downs Electric Bicycle Network is a result of cooperation between sustainable transport campaigners at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Hampshire, the new South Downs National Park and community interest company, Electric Travel CIC, which develops and manages the national Electric Bicycle Network.
  2. The Electric Bicycle Network has been developed by Community Interest Company Electric Travel CIC to give many more people the opportunity to get onto two wheels whatever their fitness or however hilly it is. Electric bicycles provide an invisible boost whenever the rider needs it and significantly widen the accessibility of cycling. It is Electric Travel's aim to give as many people as possible a fantastic first experience on an electric bicycle by developing a national network of hire and charge points. The current networks in the Lake District, Peak District, Devon and South Downs provide hire and charge points in beautiful UK tourist destinations linked by scenic routes. Electric Travel works with local businesses to develop each network and the scheme offers benefits in reducing car journeys, accessible exercise, and a boost to the local tourist economy. More information about the Electric Bicycle Network can be found at and on Electric Travel at
  3. A detailed background note about the Electric Bicycle Network is available here (PDF).
  4. CPRE Hampshire strives to promote the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of the countryside of Hampshire by the sustainable use of land and other resources in town and country, and encouraging the biodiversity and well-being of rural communities. CPRE Hampshire is working in partnership with Electric Travel to provide local management and expertise of the South Downs Electric Bicycle Network.
  5. The South Downs National Park is a unique and dynamic environment in which nearly 110,000 people live and work. In all its work the South Downs National Park must take into account its two purposes: to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area; and to promote opportunities to understand and enjoy the National Park. This must be balanced with its duty: to seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities.
  6. BBC South Today film from summer 2011 (CPRE Hampshire trial with Cyclelife):

For all media enquiries, please contact:
Keren Burney, media & communications officer, CPRE Hampshire
Tel: 01730 894123   Mobile: 07876 780065

For information on CPRE, please contact:
Anthony McEwen, Director, CPRE Hampshire
Tel: 01962 779185   Mobile: 07717 296025