Free bike hire to be prescribed by Cardiff GPs in a UK-first

A pilot scheme will see GP surgeries offer bike hire for free on prescription thanks to the Cardiff and Vale Health Board.

The groundbreaking scheme will allow GPs in Cardiff to prescribe patients with a six month membership to nextbike. Through prescriptions, patients will be given a unique access code which will entitle them to unlimited free 30-minute nextbike hire sessions for six months.

Two GP practices, Lansdowne Surgery and Fariwater Health Centre, will take part in the pilot initially.

Regular cycling could cut the risk of death by heart disease by half.

“I’m really proud to be involved in this groundbreaking pilot,” said Dr Tom Porter, Consultant in Public Health Medicine with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Public Health Wales.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.
“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 Karen Pardy is one of the first GPs to get chance to prescribe nextbike to patients: “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.”
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.”

Havebike is expanding with an extra 500 bikes and investment from the Welsh government. Cardiff residents clock up 10,000 journeys each week using the bike shire scheme.