In a UK first bike share scheme nextbike is helping doctors dish out a dose of pedal power to help people cycle their way to better health and potentially save lives.
Launching on Wednesday (May 8) the groundbreaking pilot scheme will allow local GPs in Cardiff to prescribe patients with a six month membership to nextbike – as doctors say regular cycling could cut the risk of death from heart disease by half.
The pilot, which is led by Cardiff and Vale UHB, is the first of its kind in the UK and will start with three GP practices initially.
nextbike is already a resounding success in the city with residents clocking up an impressive 10,000 journeys each week, and now the firm will be encouraging even more riding, on doctors’ orders.
Doctors at Lansdowne Surgery and Fariwater Health Centre will be able to prescribe patients who they think will benefit from cycling with free rides on a nextbike for six months.
Dr Tom Porter, Consultant in Public Health Medicine with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Public Health Wales, said he was very excited about the pilot’s potential to help save lives.
He commented: “I’m really proud to be involved in this groundbreaking pilot. Cycling is a fantastic form of physical activity and riding your bike is one of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of ill health while building your cardiovascular fitness. It’s also great for improving mental well-being too.
“It’s recommended that adults are active for at least 150 minutes every week, but many people feel that 150 minutes is simply too difficult to fit into their busy schedules. Cycling is not only fun but can also fit into your regular routine, going to work, visiting friends, or nipping to the shops, so you don’t even notice you’re racking up the minutes.
“For the first phase of the pilot we want to make sure the scheme works as intended, and is easy to use for patients and their health professionals, so we’ll be seeking feedback from participants. If the approach proves successful we’ll look at making it more widely available across the City.”
Dr Porter said regular cycling could actually cut the risk of dying from heart disease in half.
“Not only can cycling to work reduce your risk of death from heart disease by 52 per cent, 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.”
Dr Karen Pardy, a GP who will soon be able to prescribe nextbike to their paitents, said, “nextbike on Prescription provides GPs and their teams with a valuable opportunity to help encourage patients to become more active. Whilst we are aware of the many benefits of exercise for our patients, people are sometimes reluctant to engage. nextbike on prescription allows people to have a go at cycling around Cardiff and realise how this can help to support their overall wellbeing.”
As part of the prescription, patients will be given a unique access code which will entitle them to unlimited free 30-minute nextbike hire sessions for six months.
nextbike MD Krysia Solheim said: “We brought nextbike to Cardiff last year and the scheme has proved incredibly popular with the residents of the Welsh capital – between them they are making over 10,000 journeys each week.
“Since our initial launch in May 2018, we have doubled the number of bikes available in the city from 250 to 500 and installed a further 27 stations alongside the original 25 – the demand continues to grow as we work on doubling the scheme to 1,000 bikes this summer. As one of our most successful schemes, we’re really proud to now be embarking on this ground-breaking pilot with the city.”
Cardiff Councillor and Cabinet Member for Social Care, Health and Wellbeing, Susan Elsmore, said, “the city of Cardiff is incredibly fortunate and proud to offer this opportunity to its residents. Following Cardiff Council’s continued partnership with nextbike UK since its installation 12 months ago, the health board has shown both collaborative working and initiative to begin to offer this amazing scheme to people for free on prescription. This fundamentally fits both with the central tenets of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and the Social Services and Wellbeing Act, and is another example of how Cardiff’s ambition leads the way, not only in Wales but for the UK.”
Len Richards, Chief Executive of Cardiff and Vale UHB said, “This is a promising pilot which has the full support of the UHB. As a health board, we know that prevention and health promotion is one of our most important roles and are keen to promote activities which keep people healthy. To be the first UK city to introduce nextbike on prescription is fantastic testament to the Healthy Travel Charter, which we along with 13 public sector partners recently signed.”