Scotland’s largest electric bike hire scheme, Forth Bike, will be launched today in Forth Valley.
Overtaking city-wide schemes planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh, the 120 e-bike project by charity Forth Environment Link will also be the UK’s first cross regional e-bike scheme connecting three Council areas: Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.
The £500,000 initiative is funded by Transport Scotland, NHS Forth Valley, SESTRAN, Clackmannanshire Council, Stirling Council and Falkirk Council. It includes 12 bike hire charging stations, including one at Forth Valley Royal Hospital where today’s official launch will take place at 12.30pm.
Launching the scheme, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, Joe FitzPatrick said:
“I’m delighted to join Forth Environment Link and NHS Forth Valley to launch Forth Bike – Scotland’s largest electric bike hire scheme. This flexible scheme provides affordable and easy access to modern e-bikes at a fraction of the cost required to buy the latest models.
“This progressive initiative, supported by a range of partners and funded by the Scottish Government, will widen access to the benefits of active travel and increase opportunities for sustainable transport over single-occupancy car journeys for everyday trips.
“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, which uses the latest electric bikes by Canadian firm Bewegen Technologies Inc, will cost just £65/year for unlimited journeys or £2 for a single journey – offering low cost access to high tech e-bikes across the region from as little as 18p a day. Early adopters of the scheme will also be given a free one-month trial.
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.
Clackmannanshire Council’s spokesperson for the environment, Councillor Craig Holden, said: “The Council is proud to have played a part in this innovative scheme to give residents and visitors more choice in how they travel around our area and beyond. It will also add to Clackmannanshire’s growing reputation as a destination for healthy, outdoors activities.”
Councillor Paul Garner, Falkirk Council’s spokesperson for environment said: “This exciting project will deliver low carbon travel options for residents and visitors to explore the area. The bike share scheme will significantly add to the facilities for tourism and the town centre. We are hopeful that more cycle hire base units will be installed in other sites soon.”
Convenor of Stirling Council’s Environment and Housing Committee, Councillor Jim Thomson, said: “This e-bike project is the latest in a series of exciting initiatives that will ensure Stirling is at the heart of Scotland’s green charging travel infrastructure.
“Electric bikes will give residents and tourists the freedom and benefits of cycling, with a little extra assistance. By providing the opportunity for people to use electric bicycles in a range of locations throughout Stirling, it is not only good for a person’s individual health and wellbeing, it is also positive for the environment.”
The e-bikes will last for up to 60 miles on a single charge, making them a real alternative to the car.