Last week Moray Carshare extended their car and bike sharing services into Speyside, as part of a Moray Council project to create a “low carbon hub” in the Aberlour area. The new services consist of a hybrid electric car and 2 electric bikes, which are now available for hire next to the Aberlour Visitor Centre, in addition to 2 electric bikes stationed in a bike shelter at the Fiddich Park car park in Craigellachie.

Moray Carshare manager, Gordon McAlpine, explains: “The aim of our part of the project is to introduce sustainable travel options for people in a rural area where there is a deficit of transport services. Our car and e-bike hire services are surprisingly affordable at the same time as being environmentally friendly. We have launched with a low emission Toyota Yaris hybrid car, but before the end of the year this will be replaced with a pure electric Renault Zoe that will be charged from a new fast charging point.

This charging point and both of the new bike shelters are part of the ‘Speyside low carbon hub’ that Moray Council are creating thanks to winning funding from the European Union’s Regional Development Fund. Other parts of this project include 2 more charge points and major improvements to the Speyside Way in order to encourage more active travel.”

He continues: “We have been running our car sharing services for 12 years now, including 2 cars in each of the villages of Findhorn and Kinloss, as well as more cars in Forres and the Findhorn Ecovillage. The cars in these villages have proved very popular for a wide variety of people. We have some families who choose to use us instead of having a second car, and many others, young and old, who don’t need a car every day, and would rather be free of the hassle of car ownership. For all of them it usually works out cheaper to use us instead of having their own car, as they only pay according to how much they actually use.

For many of our members another motivation for joining is our strong environmental awareness: all our cars are chosen for their low emissions and one third of our fleet is now electric – and charged from 100% renewable sources.

One of the findings from studies of car clubs is that when you have to pay for each time you use a resource you become more aware of your choices. Thus, car club members more often choose to walk, cycle or use public transport instead of taking a car.

Mr McAlpine adds: “Electric bikes are a new venture for us. They can offer many people a way back in to cycling, and thereby to a healthier life style through increased exercise. The electric motors provide assistance, but you still have to pedal. You can choose your level of assistance depending on whether you are cycling uphill or downhill or with the wind or against the wind.

So far the feedback from members has been extremely positive. As one member, Dave Till from Findhorn, said: “The e-bike was great. Because it gives help to pedal – it felt equivalent to riding a bike downhill – it was that easy – even when actually cycling against a strongish headwind. The whole experience made me feel younger and more energetic!”

Mr McAlpine continues: “For those who already are used to cycling, e-bikes provide a way of going much further. Many of our members are using them to go and visit local attractions that they would otherwise drive to. They tell us that cycling on an e-bike gives them a stronger sense of connection with the countryside as well as reducing their carbon footprint.”

The electric car and electric bikes that Moray Carshare are introducing to Speyside have been partly funded by the Moray LEADER programme and by HiTrans. At the launch Derek Ross also drew the winner of Moray Carshare’s prize draw: for all those who participated in their sustainable transport survey. And the lucky winner of a £100 Elgin Gift Voucher was John Stephenson of Elgin.