An ambitious bike hire scheme is being defended after electric cycles worth hundreds of pounds were dumped in the street just days following its launch.

The £550,000 'ebikes Derby' initiative has seen 200 electric bikes provided for hire across the city via an app and website.

Funded by the University of Derby and a grant from the Department of Transport, the initiative aims to reduce congestion and pollution across the city.

The ebikes are being advertised as "fast, affordable and effortless" on the scheme's website but cyclists have already found the electric cycles abandoned around the city instead of being returned to special docking stations.

Cyclist Glyn Ivings said he was surprised to see an ebike apparently abandoned and leaning against railings at Sturgess Fields, off Queensway.

It was still there two hours later.

He said:

No-one was in sight and I thought it was an odd place to leave the machine as there is no pedestrian access to the fields or lake at that point. I wondered if it might have run out of power.

Glyn Ivings, cyclist

Following the discovery of the 'abandoned' bikes a Derby City Council spokesman said:

We are finding that the vast majority of customers are following this procedure properly.

Spokesman, Derby City Council
The ebikes Derby scheme was launched in the city centre on June 28

People who want to use the electric bikes can register to ride through the ebikes Derby website or the Social Bicycles App for iOS or Android. They will be given a six-digit account number and can choose a PIN.

After a couple more instructions, the ebike will be released from its docking station and can be taken for a ride. At the end, the ebike should be taken back to an ebike hub, or a public cycle rack, which could incur an additional fee.

There are at least 22 docking stations across the city and rides cost 3p a minute with a minimum spend of £1.

At the launch of the scheme on June 28, Councillor Jonathan Smale, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and public protection said cycle hire schemes brought many benefits to a city, for residents, students, workers and visitors.

He added:

It provides a viable transport alternative that will not only help to mitigate the impacts of poor air quality, and growing levels of congestion across the city, but also improve people’s health and fitness levels."

Cllr Jonathan Smale, Derby City Council