E-bike use in Forth Valley has soared in the past month, partly down to two lockdown initiatives giving keyworkers free access to electric bikes during the Covid-19 crisis.

Thanks to funding from Cycling Scotland, Forth Environment Link has offered keyworkers free annual memberships for its public electric bike hire scheme Forth Bike. The charity has also given NHS staff exclusive access to its Energy Savings Trust funded e-bike lending library.

Forth Bike usage skyrocketed during April, as Active Travel Development Manager Shirley Paterson explained: “In the past 3 weeks Forth Bike users have clocked up 10,000 miles, more than 3 times the monthly spring/summer average. With social distancing measures in place, cycling is proving to be one of the best ways to get around during the crisis. As expected, the main usage hotspots are in the vicinity of the Forth Valley Royal Hospital, with Stenhousemuir station seeing the greatest number of hires.”

The charity’s e-bike lending library has also been inundated with requests over the past 4 weeks. 32 e-bikes from the charity’s e-bike lending library have already been delivered direct to the homes of NHS and other keyworker staff across Forth Valley; with a further 13 e-bikes due to be delivered.

Active Travel Coordinator, Ray Burr said: “We’ve seen a huge surge in interest from keyworkers looking to commute by e-bike. We’re delighted to have been able to fulfil 32 requests so far and have ordered 13 more e-bikes to keep up with demand. The feedback we’ve received has been tremendous, with many staff commenting on the benefits to their physical and mental health.”

  • GP Practice Manager Pauline Robertson from Falkirk said: “I’ve absolutely loved having the e-bike over the past 4 weeks. I’m exercising more and that has made all the difference. I’m feeling a lot better, my energy levels have increased, and the feel-good factor has encouraged me to go out for more walks with my husband in the evening.”
  • NHS Forth Valley Palliative Care Nurse Evelyn Paterson from Kincardine commented: “I’m loving the bike and loving cycling.  I’ve obviously inspired some of my colleagues, as 3 of them now have bikes too. Every week I’ve cycled more. In week one, I cycled twice, in week two three times and in week three four times. I’ve hardly used any petrol in my car.”
  • Ambulance technician, Sarah Cunningham from Sauchie said: “The e-bike means you can go a bit further and a bit faster! It’s been really useful for getting to work and for exercising on my days off. I haven’t been on a bike since I was about 14, but I think I will be cycling more after this.”
  • NHS Forth Valley Clinical research nurse Anne Todd from Larbert said: “I’m been loving the e-bike. I’ll definitely be buying one once I have to return it. It’s totally changed my commute to work.”
  • NHS Forth Valley Consultant physician Leah Leitch from Brightons added: “The e-bike has been brilliant. It’s meant that I’m cycling to work when I otherwise wouldn’t have had the energy, which has been great for my mental health.”
  • Macmillan Cancer Support Nurse Helen Upfold from Airth said: “The e-bike has totally transformed my commute. Instead of hopping in the car, I’m using the bike five days a week. I’m enjoying the exercise and feeling much healthier for it. It’s been really good for my mental health too. The job I do can be quite emotionally draining and the fresh air is such a tonic.”
  • Therapeutic Assistant Practitioner Donna McKinlay from Stirling said: “I received the electric bike 2 weeks into lockdown. The week before it arrived, my mood was very low. I’m now using it most nights and to commute to and from work on a Saturday. I feel that I have much more energy at nights after being out on the e-bike.”
  • Rehabilitation Hub Administrator Gillian Millar from Dunblane said: “I’m enjoying the bike very much. I’ve not been on a bike for years and found this one especially good, it really helps going uphill and is very fast. I’ve only had it a week, but it is great getting out on it after work for some much-needed exercise and fresh air after being cooped up in the office all day.  One of my colleagues was raving about it and it inspired me to try it out and I’m glad she did as it is brilliant.”

Forth Environment Link is also offering free maintenance and repairs to keyworkers who have their own bikes, thanks to funding from Cycling UK, which includes access to pannier racks, helmets and locks.

For further information about borrowing or hiring an e-bike, or bike repairs, contact:

Ray Burr, Ray@forthenvironmentlink.org (FALKIRK ENQUIRIES)

Emily Callan, EmilyC@forthenvironmentlink.org (STIRLING ENQUIRIES)