Forth Environment Link has been awarded £270,000 from Transport Scotland to create Scotland’s first large scale electric bike scheme. The news comes as the charity celebrates the runaway success of its bike rental scheme, which turns three this Friday (27 October).

Since nextbike was introduced to the city by Forth Environment Link three years ago, the number of journeys made by rental bike in Stirling has tripled. Users of the bike share scheme have clocked up nearly 24,000 journeys in the past year – compared to around 7,000 in the first year of the initiative.

The latest investment from Transport Scotland will see the charity develop a new cross city scheme with over 50 e-bikes, building on the success of its 160 pedal cycle fleet and ensuring there are enough bicycles to match future demand. The funding will also be used to install 5 smart screens across Forth Valley offering active travel planning advice, with everything from information on cycling and walking routes to tips on bike maintenance.

Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, said: “Stirling’s nextbike scheme, which is managed locally by Forth Environment Link’s Stirling Cycle Hub, has been incredibly popular and demonstrates how availability and ease of access can rapidly increase cycling rates. We’ve directly invested over £1m into the Stirling Cycle Hub and its nextbike initiative since 2013, and today’s award will ensure the continued success of what has been achieved here in Stirling.

“There are so many benefits to our environment and to our health by switching to cycling and other forms of active travel. Through the Programme for Government, we have doubled the active travel budget from £40m to £80m, reflecting our commitment to build an Active Nation. This will allow us to support similar initiatives, ensuring as many people as possible discover the benefits of active and sustainable travel.”

Stirling Cycle Hub Manager, Graham McQueen, said: Since its launch in 2014, the nextbike scheme has been hugely popular. We’ve recorded over 37,000 journeys in total which for a city the size of Stirling is incredible. Stirling is certainly showing signs of embracing a cycling culture, we’re starting to see a change in mindset. We now have over 2,000 active users of the scheme, many of whom have swapped their everyday car or bus journeys for the bike – which is great for their health and the local environment. The success of nextbike, the continued support of Transport Scotland and the recent infrastructure funding boost from Sustrans, takes us one step closer to Stirling truly becoming a cycling city.”

Julian Scriven, managing director of nextbike UK, said he was proud of Stirling’s success: “We are delighted that the people of Stirling have taken bike share to their hearts. Over the past three years we’ve seen a 300% increase in the number of users. It’s a proud moment for everyone involved in the success of the Stirling nextbike scheme, the project has made great strides in improving access to cycling across the city.”