Free nextbike memberships and e-bike rides are being given to NHS workers in Glasgow to help them get to and from work safely during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Up to one thousand free memberships a month will be made available over the next three months.
All NHS workers will be eligible for the scheme, which has been launched to help them minimise the risks of contracting Covid-19 while travelling to and from work on public transport.
The memberships will provide free unlimited 30-minute rides on the standard pedal bikes, in addition to a £2.50 e-bike credit.
The scheme has been made possible thanks to a joint funding partnership between Glasgow City Council, ScottishPower and nextbike. Glasgow City Council has used its allocation from Scottish Governments' Smarter Choices Smarter Places Programme to support this initiative.
nextbike MD, Krysia Solheim, contacted the City Council and ScottishPower to secure support the NHS in its time of need.
“The events over the last few weeks have been unprecedented and it’s clear that now, more than ever, we need to come together to get through this crisis,” said Ms Solheim.
“Cycling is the perfect self-distancing way of moving around our cities during the pandemic. Hopefully, by offering NHS staff 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 health of the nation.
“I would like say a huge thanks to Glasgow City Council and ScottishPower for lending their support.
“Our local service provider, Bike for Good, is also doing a vital job by keeping the fleet on the streets for people to use and we can’t thank their staff enough for the dedication they have shown during difficult times.”
The fleet will also remain operational for regular customers, who can still use the bikes to get their daily dose of exercise and fresh air.
Ms Solheim added: “Cycling is the perfect way of embracing exercise while practicing safe self-distancing. Getting out in the fresh air is also vital for mental health during these turbulent times and it’s important that people know they can still enjoy cycling as long as they stick to current social distancing and hygiene guidelines set out by the government.
“We’re encouraging all of our customers to take sensible and responsible measures when using the bikes, including following official handwashing ad hygiene guidelines and not using our bikes if they are showing any Coronavirus symptoms.
“We’re cleaning the handlebars and bike computers of all bicycles as regularly as we’re able to in the field and in the workshop. We're also recommending customers wear gloves when using the bikes, as well as washing hands before and after use.”
Chris Watson, team member at Bike for Good, which maintains the fleet, said they were doing all they could to keep the fleet moving, including enhanced bike sanitation and staff hygiene measures.
“We have taken steps to continue working within strict COVID-19 safety guidelines. We have a number of staff available on standby if the team needs to isolate,” he added.
Cllr Anna Richardson, Glasgow City Council’s City Convener for Environment and Sustainability, said: “This is a really difficult time for all NHS staff who are working in unprecedented conditions. Cycling is a convenient and healthy way to travel and we are delighted to be able to provide the necessary funding to allow NHS staff the means to cycle to and from work at any time of day.”
Keith Anderson, Chief Executive of ScottishPower, said: “We’re proud to support our NHS heroes who are working tremendously hard to protect people and communities across Glasgow. This scheme will allow them to travel to and from work in a green and healthy way that also supports the official guidance and advice from the Scottish Government and NHS. This is just one of the many ways we’re supporting the people of Glasgow during these difficult times and I’m sure it will make a real difference to essential NHS staff as they continue to go to work for all of us.”
Information on how to register will be shared with the NHS through the Active Travel Department.