Yesterday saw Scotland’s largest electric bike hire scheme link up the three council areas of Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.
The charity behind the project, Forth Environment Link say this is the UK’s first cross-regional hire scheme and includes 12 bike hire charging stations, including one at Forth Valley Royal Hospital where the official launch took place yesterday.
Executive director of Forth Environment Link, Clara Walker said: “Forth Bike aims to connect communities across Forth Valley, opening-up access to services and employment opportunities by offering a flexible, inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to travel. Cycling is also great for our health. E-bikes give as little or as much assistance as you need, making them great for those getting back in the saddle or new to exercise.”
Forth Environment Link has been working closely with NHS Forth Valley to get staff, patients and visitors to the hospital walking and cycling more. As well as an e-bike hire point, Forth Valley Royal Hospital will also be home to the UK’s first hospital based active travel hub offering route planning advice and cycle training.
One of the first groups to use the new e-bikes will be bowel cancer patients taking part in an innovative study looking at the health benefits of active travel.
NHS Forth Valley Lead Colorectal Nurse, Linnet McGeever said: “We are becoming more aware through studies that exercising can optimise a person’s health and improve recovery time when having major surgery. In Forth Valley patients already receive an anaesthetic review prior to surgery to assess and look at ways to enhance their baseline health. We realise the importance of increased activity and exercise to improve lung and heart function and welcome the cycling scheme as an opportunity for patients to improve their fitness with the benefits of trained instructors.”
As well as boosting the health of residents, the three Councils believe the e-bikes will prove a draw for tourists visiting the region.
Launching the scheme, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, Joe FitzPatrick said: “This initiative supports our climate ambitions, improves air quality and benefits our health and sense of wellbeing – directly contributing to our objective of developing an Active Nation, where more people can enjoy the benefits of walking and cycling than ever before.”
An annual pass for Forth Bike will cost £65/year for unlimited journeys or £2 for a single journey. Early adopters of the scheme will also be given a free one-month trial.