Free bikes to be given out to overweight people by the NHS in new healthy living plan
As well as offering overweight Brits access to bikes, a string of plans were announced aimed at getting people back pushing pedals again – including a free £50 cycle maintenance voucher.
Overweight people will be given access to bikes on the NHS in the latest plan by the Government to tackle obesity.
The Prime Minister said GPs in areas of England with poor health will be encouraged to prescribe cycling with patients able to access bikes through their local surgery.
There was also help announced for people thinking about getting back on their bikes anyway, with a free £50 bike maintenance voucher made available to everyone in England.
An initial 50,000 Fix Your Bike vouchers will be made available online shortly before midnight on Tuesday on a first come, first served basis.
People can get a voucher by visiting https://fixyourbikevoucherscheme.est.org.uk/ will be able to save £50 from the cost of repairing a bike at participating bike shops – including Halfords and Evans Cycles – from 23:45 tonight (Tuesday).
Johnson said: “Now is the time to shift gears and press ahead with our biggest and boldest plans yet to boost active travel – so that everyone can feel the transformative benefits of cycling.”
DfT figures show there has been a surge in cycling following the coronavirus outbreak.
Compared with the equivalent day in the first week of March, cycling usage nearly doubled over the weekend of July 18/19.
Monday July 20 – the most recent weekday for which data is available – saw cycling at 146% of pre-lockdown levels.
The hope is the free bike maintenance vouchers will boost confidence – with £50 enough to cover the bill for a standard service and the replacement of a basic component such as an inner tube or cable.
Halfords chief executive Graham Stapleton said: “When it comes to bike repairs, we’ve noticed a change in customer mind set, with more cyclists turning to us to help with the smallest of fixes, as they dust off their old bikes and seek to avoid public transport.”
He added: “We think the Government’s ‘Fix your Bike Voucher Scheme’ will not only help individuals become more confident about keeping their bikes maintained, but will help speed up the cycling revolution.”
A spokesman from Evans Cycles said: “The new voucher scheme presents a fantastic opportunity to help revive any bike that might benefit from a bit of care and repair. We hope the public embrace the opportunity of the funding, so that more people can discover that life really is better by bike.”
Last year, in the first scheme of its kind, NHS patients in parts of Cardiff were given prescriptions for free bike rides.
It came after a study found regular cycling cuts the risk of heart disease by 46% and cancer risks by 45%. Even just cycling part of the way to work – to the station perhaps – can reduce your chances of heart disease and cancer by 36% and 32% respectively.
GPs in Cardiff have been testing the free using the city’s bike share scheme on prescription.
The plan allowed doctors from Lansdowne Surgery, in Canton, and Fairwater Health Centre to prescribe patients free 30-minute hire sessions for six months with the bike share provider.
Dr Tom Porter, consultant with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Public Health Wales, said at the time: “Not only can cycling to work reduce your risk of death from heart disease by 52%, but it’s also a great way to get around the city without using your car, making it good for both you and the environment around you, and helping to keep the air clean for everyone while reducing carbon emissions.”