Hospital workers first to ride hydrogen bikes

Man in a suit on a hydrogen-powered bicycle

Ten hydrogen-powered bicycles being used by staff at a hospital in Saint-Lô in what company claims is a 'world first'

Staff at a hospital in the Manche town of Saint-Lô have become the first in the world to use hydrogen-powered bicycles.

The town this week took delivery of 10 bicycles from Biarritz-based Pragma Industries, which designed and built the revolutionary vehicles. Another 10 have been sent to nearby Cherbourg, which will start using them in Spring 2018 after it has set up a suitable charging station, while 40 more will be delivered to Chambéry, Ariège, and the communauté d’agglomération Pays basque.

The first hydrogen bicycles will be used in Saint-Lô by hospital employees and Lecapitaine, a company of 800 employees. Between April and October, they will also be available for tourists to hire.

"We are being bombarded with requests," sales manager Christophe Bruniau told Le Monde, with interest from Denmark and Germany as well as across France.

The bicycles weigh 25kg - similar to an electric bike - but can be recharged with hydrogen in less than two minutes, compared to several hours for the electric version. The new bikes have a longer range, too, of about 100km compared to 50km.

Saint-Lô has installed a 'hydrogen bike charging station', which converts water into hydrogen for the bicycles.

They currently cost €7,500 - but the company hopes to cut the price to €3,500 by 2020. A sizeable portion of the cost of the bikes and the station was met by the Agence de l’environnement et de la maîtrise de l’énergie, while the rest was covered by local authorities.

In January 2015, Saint-Lô town launched the first public hydrogen station for cars. It now runs a fleet of 17 hydrogen-powered vehicles. A similar station opened in the Seine-Maritime city of Rouen in July 2017.

Already in January 2015, the department inaugurated the first public hydrogen station for cars in Saint-Lô in France. The community now has a fleet of seventeen hydrogen-powered vehicles. The Normandy region plans to open nine more hydrogen stations in 2018.

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