Forth Environment Link and Recyke-a-Bike have joined forces with Cycling Scotland to make the region’s two bike share schemes, nextbike and Forth Bike, free to key workers during April.

100 free memberships are being made available for each bike hire scheme, giving 200 key workers across Forth Valley free access to 200 nextbikes and 120 Bewegen Forth Bikes for a month – with the potential to extend the scheme.

The initiative will allow essential workers to get to and from work without using public transport during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis; as well as keep the fleet on the road for regular users looking to keep fit during the lockdown.

Clara Walker, Executive Director of Forth Environment Link said: “As a local charity, we’re looking to support Forth Valley’s key workers in any way we can. With public transport reduced and social distancing measures in place, getting around by bike is one of the best ways to travel to minimise the risk of transmission. Daily exercise outside is also a great way to support our mental health and wellbeing at a challenging time like this. We’ll be reviewing the free keyworker memberships after a month, with a view to extending these if there is demand.”

Recyke-a-bike will be taking special care to protect the health of riders, as Chief Executive Angela Barron explained: “Keeping the fleet on the road for key workers is vitally important, as is their health and safety. We’ve included regular sanitisation of the bikes’ main contact points alongside our maintenance schedule, and we’re also advising all customers to wash or sanitise their hands immediately before and after use. If you have coronavirus symptoms, please stay at home and don’t use the bikes to protect the health of all our riders and our staff.”

The key worker scheme is supported by Cycling Scotland. The organisation’s Head of Education and Training, Christopher Johnson said: “Cycling may be the only way for some people to travel to essential work during this time and we are keen to help. With funding from Transport Scotland, we are supporting Forth Environment and Recyke-a-bike to offer free access to bikes to key workers. Everyone cycling needs to remember to follow all public health guidance, to stay at least 2 metres from others, cycle within their ability level and wash hands at their destination.”  

Commenting on the offer to key workers nextbike MD, Krysia Solheim, said: “Cycling is the perfect self-distancing way of moving around Stirling during the pandemic. Hopefully, by offering key workers the chance to take a free nextbike instead of having to use public transport, we will be helping to minimise the risks to their health – so they can continue to look after the city.”

Gabriel Patry-Desjardins, Program Manager for Bewegen – the company behind Forth Bike – added: “Amid these challenging times, Bewegen Technologies salutes the dedication of local key workers and we are happy to support their daily commute with Forth Bike. Now more than ever, it is essential to remain as healthy and safe as possible. While Forth Bike remains open and available for essential trips throughout the Forth Valley, please stay at home should you have coronavirus symptoms.” 

Key workers who would like to take advantage of the free bike share offer should contact: bikeshare@forthenvironmentlink.org

Forth Environment Link is also offering NHS key workers exclusive use of its e-bike lending library. Since the initiative was launched last week, 7 doctors and nurses have already signed up for an e-bike including nurse Helen Konkol from Avonbridge.

Helen said: “Thank you so much Forth Environment Link for lending me an e-bike. My own e-bike is off road for repair and I can’t get it fixed at present. I’m using the e-bike back and forth to work at St John’s Hospital in Livingston where I work in the Dialysis Unit.  It means I don’t always have to rely on the car or public transport during this present situation.”

NHS keyworkers interested in the loan of an e-bike should contact  Ray@forthenvironmentlink.org for Falkirk enquiries or Emily on EmilyC@forthenvironmentlink.org for Stirling enquiries.