Wessex Archaeology’s Sheffield team is delighted to announce the latest addition to our fleet of vehicles – a Raleigh e-bike! Cars or vans are our normal modes of transport to local site meetings or HER visits in Sheffield and further afield, and we wanted a way to reduce our carbon footprint and get our office based staff active.

Physical activity is known to increase mental wellbeing, and being both electric and pedal powered, an e-bike is also an ideal way to improve our sustainability credentials; a particularly important issue in this time of climate emergency.

With Sheffield station just over one mile from the office a folding e-bike is also the ideal way to visit sites and clients in neighbouring towns and solve the issue of ‘last mile transportation’. With a folding bike, there is no need for a taxi or bus to reach your final destination when arriving by rail. At up to £2,000 a bike it is also a cost effective means of transportation; if just five members of staff used the bike eight times a year the savings on car hire would pay for an e-bike in 12 months.

Members of the Sheffield Wessex Archaeology Team test e-bikes

Before diving in to this new electric world, the first thing to do was arrange a trial with Dave at Sheffield Cycleboost. CycleBoost is delivered on behalf of Sheffield City Council to promote sustainable travel and encourage more people to replace shorter car journeys by travelling to work by bike. Dave kindly provided two free loan bikes; a standard e-bike for local trips and a folding ‘traditional’ bike for keener cyclists to take on the train. Following the trial, we hope to combine the best of both worlds and buy a folding e-bike.

Members of the Sheffield Wessex Archaeology Team test e-bikes Members of the Sheffield Wessex Archaeology Team test e-bikes

At Wessex Archaeology, before any member of staff is permitted to drive a work vehicle they undertake a driving assessment and users of the e-bike are no different. On a cold afternoon Ken from Pedal Ready, part of Sheffield’s Cycleboost scheme, put ten willing volunteers through their paces on the power assisted bike. As a Sheffield commuter on a traditional road bike, cycling will never be the same after experiencing the ‘turbo’ gear on the e-bike - it really did take the pain out of  cycling uphill!

With over 10% of the team signed up for the assessment, it was fantastic to see that the scheme had got some of staff into the saddle for the first time in 20 years and all were certified pedal ready. With its power assistance and limited to 15 mph, all agreed the e-bike was a great way of getting around Sheffield. Less than 24 hours later Ashley Tuck has taken the bike on its inaugural journey, cycling to Sheffield Castle to give a tour to students from the University of Sheffield.

Members of the Sheffield Wessex Archaeology Team test e-bikes Members of the Sheffield Wessex Archaeology Team test e-bikes Members of the Sheffield Wessex Archaeology Team test e-bikes

We look forward to cycling many more miles over the next few weeks before handing back the trial bikes and choosing our forever bike. We would like to heartily thank Dave and Ken for all their help with the trial and for the great work they do encouraging the people of Sheffield to get on their collective bike.

By Andrew Norton, Regional Director (North)