Peebles residents will get free access to a fleet of 200 free bikes for the next three months as the number of people cycling surges due to Covid-19.
From today, Wednesday 10 June, the bikes will be available to pick up from 25 locations around the city. People can ride for up to half an hour and drop them off or renew for another 30 minutes at any docking station.
Cycling Scotland, Forth Environment Link and Recyke-a-Bike have teamed up with nextbike UK in Peebles to deliver the scheme, thanks to £30,000 funding from Transport Scotland.
The news comes after Cycling Scotland’s nationwide network of cycle counters recorded a significant increase in people cycling during May, with numbers up in one Stirling location by 61 per cent* compared to this time last year.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:
“I’m pleased that Scottish Government funding can support this exciting partnership for cycling across Peebles. We’ve seen cycling increase dramatically across the country and it’s important we continue to secure this sustainable shift in travel behaviour through initiatives like this. I’m sure this step will be welcomed by local residents and I look forward to seeing positive outcomes for greener travel choices.
“As we return to a new normal, Transport Scotland has published a Transport Transition Plan and new guidance for those who need to travel. One of the best things we can do to help manage demand on our transport system, while benefitting our health and protecting our climate, is by staying local and continuing to walk, cycle and wheel where we can.”
Cycling Scotland Head of Education and Training, Chris Johnson, said: “Our nationwide network of counters has recorded a big increase in the number of people cycling during lockdown. We have also seen a surge in demand for bikes.
“This new initiative is a great example of cycling organisations coming together quickly to help more people travel by bike, regardless of income, and to access the physical and mental benefits from cycling.
“To help people cycle beyond lockdown, when physical distancing will still be required, one of several things we need to do is increase access to bikes and this trial is a really positive step to help more people in Peebles cycle.”
Cllr Jim Thomson, Convener for Environment at Stirling Council said: “It’s one of our key priorities to improve access to environmentally friendly travel so nextbike has been a valued partner for years now.
“Daily exercise is great for the body and mind, and giving access to these bikes for free makes it even easier for the people of Stirling to stay healthy, while adhering to the national guidelines on travel.”
The new scheme builds on the success of two other lockdown initiatives organised by charity Forth Environment Link, in partnership with Cycling Scotland and Recyke-a-Bike, which have made nextbikes and Forth Bike bikes free to key workers during the pandemic.
Executive Director of Forth Environment Link, Clara Walker said: “Cycling is proving to be one of the best ways to get around during the crisis. In fact, we’ve seen bike share use in Forth Valley soar to three times its normal level since lockdown began. We’ve also had some fantastic feedback from key workers about the benefits to their physical and mental health. This new scheme, which extends free nextbike hire to all for the next three months, is a great way for everyone to try out a bike and build exercise into their daily routine, helping them stay active.”
nextbike MD Krysia Solheim said: “There has never been a better time to get on a bike. Not only does it improve physical health and wellbeing but it has a hugely positive impact on mental health too. We are seeing huge demand across all our schemes as the public look for alternative ways to get to work so we’re delighted to be able to work with all our partners to provide this for free.”
To use a nextbike, simply register with a debit or credit card on the nextbike app or at any nextbike station across the city. For security, there is a one-off, £1 fee to register, which can be refunded. More information can be read on the nextbike website.
Anyone without a bank card or who needs extra support registering can contact Forth Environment Link for help: email firstname.lastname@example.org or 07923 277624.