Smart bikes will be trialled on the streets of Brighton and Hove this year.

The University of Brighton is leading a project to trial 35 e-bikes until next year as part of research into sustainable transport in the city.

Councillor Ian Davey, Brighton and Hove City Council’s cabinet member for transport and public realm, said the scheme has the potential to open cycling to people who would not normally get on their bikes.

E-bikes, also known as pedelecs, are electronically-assisted bicycles that allow people, particularly those in hilly areas, to cycle more easily.

The rider still has to pedal but the rechargeable battery-assistance makes it easier especially against the wind or uphill.

University researchers will work with local employers and older people to understand how they use the special bikes to commute to work.

The aim is to see if people who do not currently use a bike will take up cycling more with the help of the assisted cycles.

The university said it hopes it will add to the city’s reputation for sustainable transport and environmental issues.

Dr Frauke Behrendt, senior lecturer in media studies, who is leading the research, said: “Brighton, with its hills and the wind along the seafront, offers perfect conditions for trialling e-bikes, as these are commonly cited as reasons for not cycling. We are excited to be able to work closely with the local community during this project.”

During the six-week long sets of trials the researchers will use digital technologies such as GPS tracking and smartphones to monitor the bike use.

Cyclists will be able to mount their smartphones on the handlebars to receive feedback about their speed and distance covered.

Coun Davey said: “I think this is a really interesting and exciting project. I know they are keen to work with local communities in particular those on hills. It has the potential to open up cycling to more people.”

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