E-bike Scheme Takes Off

Rehabilitation Hub Administrator Gillian Millar from Dunblane is just one of the local members of staff who has started using an e-bike during the pandemic.

For the first time in his career as NHS Forth Valley’s transport guru, Mark Craske has reported that he is now operating two waiting lists – one for car parking permits and the other for the loan of an e-bike!

At a recent meeting of the Sustainability Working Group members heard that the popularity of the e-bike initiative has increased rapidly since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with more people cycling to work.

A presentation from Shirley Paterson, Active Travel Development Manager for Forth Environment Link and Lead Colorectal Clinical Nurse Specialist, Linnet McGeever, revealed that 117 of our staff have loaned e-bikes with a waiting list of 60. There have been almost 1,000 enquiries about the e-bike scheme which is a partnership between NHS Forth Valley, Forth Environment Link and Edinburgh University’s Physical Activity for Health Research Centre. Statistics also show that 313 car journeys have been replaced by e-bikes.

NHS Forth Valley Environmental and Sustainability Manager, Derek Jarvie, commented: “Almost 80% of people who loaned e-bikes have ditched their car for commuting and taken to two wheels and around 20% have now purchased their own e-bike. 72% say they will continue to pedal to work when the pandemic ends, reporting that the fresh air and exercise is improving their health and wellbeing. Proof that more people are on two wheels also comes from the fact that there’s been an increase in cycling of around 40% on Bellsdyke Road.”

Other successes include the purchase of 20 new e-bikes for staff to use as part of their working day to see patients / attend meetings and the introduction of Bike Medic a roadside rescue and repair scheme for all key workers who cycle. E-bikes are also being offered to patients as part of a pilot study to help them get fit before bowel surgery. This aids recovery and can lead to a shorter stay in hospital.

Exciting plans for the future include Cycle Scotland training for NHS Forth Valley drivers to enable them to be more aware of cyclists on the road and an Ambassador Programme where staff, who are already cycling to and from work, support and encourage colleagues to give it a try.

A pilot with staff from four GP practices on the use of e-cargo bikes to carry specialist equipment to patients is also underway and there are plans to look at the possibility of extending the payback period for staff accessing the NHS Forth Valley Cycle Scheme initiative which has seen more bikes being purchased by our staff in the last year than the previous three years combined.

For further information please contact mark.craske@nhs.scot.