An initiative making nextbike journeys free for Stirling residents has been extended until June 2021.
Since being introduced last summer to encourage safe active travel during the pandemic, locals have made over 20,000 trips and clocked up more than 38,000km around the city.
Supported by Forth Environment Link and Cycling Scotland, the scheme was originally made free for locals thanks to £30,000 in funding from Transport Scotland. Additional funding was then awarded by Paths for All’s Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Local Authority Fund, allowing Stirling Council to extend the free rides initiative until 31st March. A further injection of this funding will see rentals remain free until June 2021.
Stirling has seen an increase in the number of people cycling across the city during the pandemic, with rates up 60% in May 2020 compared to May 2019.
Krysia Solheim, nextbike UK MD, said: “We’re really pleased that the scheme will be extended until June, thanks to funding awarded to Stirling Council from the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Local Authority Fund. It’s been an incredibly popular initiative, with Stirling cyclists riding almost the circumference of the globe since last June.
“There was a huge rise in interest in cycling during the first lockdown, when there was less traffic on the streets and people were looking for a safe way to get around their towns and cities, and a safe way to exercise. We hope that by now, these habits will have become ingrained for many people; and by extending the free rentals scheme, we hope that many more residents will take advantage of the offer.
“Our bikes are the perfect way to get around the city and by making small changes such as opting to take a nextbike instead of jumping in the car, our customers are helping to bring about positive changes that will lead to reduced congestion and CO2 levels, and will also help them to be fitter and healthier.”
The free offer for Stirling residents applies to the first 30 minutes of every nextbike journey. Stirling’s nextbike scheme includes 200 nextbikes, which are managed and maintained by a partnership between Forth Environment Link and Recyke-a-Bike.
Shirley Paterson, active travel development manager for Forth Environment Link, said: “We’re heartened to see so many local people taking up cycling in the past year, making active travel choices that are good for them and the environment. We hope this latest funding boost as we head into the warmer months will encourage even more people to jump in the saddle and explore the city on two wheels as lockdown restrictions start to ease.”
Angela Barron, chief executive, Recyke-a-bike, added: “This funding is particularly welcome during these challenging times, not only does it make low, carbon active travel accessible and affordable to all in Stirling, but it also supports local employment.”