E-bike loan scheme helps Derbyshire NHS staff improve their health

NHS staff in Derbyshire have been helped to improve their health and wellbeing through a bike loan scheme.

People who work for Derbyshire Community Healthcare Services NHS Foundation Trust and Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust are able to borrow electric bikes free of charge for up to three weeks at a time so they can test them out before deciding to buy one.

A total of 157 people have used the bikes over the past year and a half. Surveys of those who took part showed:

  • 97% said they enjoyed the experience
  • 91% said they were considering buying an e-bike now or in the future
  • 70% said they would be likely to reduce their car use as a result of having an e-bike

A follow up survey 12 months after the loan period showed that of 43 people who responded to the survey that nine had bought an e-bike and a further 30 were considering it.

The results have been shared during annual Bike Week, led by Cycling UK, which aims to encourage people to cycle to work.

Watch Alastair explain the benefits of the scheme in this short video:

The scheme is part of the local NHS’ work in Derbyshire to reduce carbon emissions and to encourage good health through exercise among its staff.

The Derbyshire NHS scheme is targeted at people who cycle very little or have not used an e-bike previously. Staff are provided with two bikes, so they can cycle together with a friend or member of their family.

E-bikes provide power assistance to help the cyclist up hills. The cyclist continues to pedal and rides normally on flat terrain.

Derbyshire Community Healthcare Services and Chesterfield Royal Hospital used funds allocated to improving sustainability in the NHS to purchase a fleet of 10 e-bikes and to manage the scheme.

Mark Armstrong-Read, sustainability manager at Derbyshire Community Healthcare Services, said: “We wanted to encourage our staff to take up cycling, either for leisure or to commute.

“Many people said to us that it’s too hilly to cycle in Derbyshire, so we asked: ‘Have you considered an e-bike?’ and people responded to say they thought they still wouldn’t be able to get up the hills, or they were too expensive.

“So we thought that if we could get people to try out e-bikes for themselves that might encourage them to get their own.

“For us it’s a method of encouraging our staff to be more fit, active and healthy. Cycling is a good way to exercise and get outdoors, which are both good for mental health.”

Chesterfield Community Interest Company Inclusive Pedals delivers and collects the bikes to people’s homes and keeps them in good mechanical order. The company runs a number of projects to introduce people to cycling.

Its director Alastair Meikle said: “Cycling improves your physical health, your mental health and it improves the environment.

“We know that people are very happy with the scheme and that several have bought electric bikes since then and taken up cycling.”

Rohan Ardley, a surgeon at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, is about to buy his own e-bike after trying out one of the loan bikes.

He said: “I had been thinking about getting an e-bike so when I saw this scheme I thought that I might as well have a go and that would crystalise my thinking.

“I absolutely loved it. I used it for commuting from my home in Sheffield, which is 12 miles away and just too hilly for me to do on a normal bike. I also went out for some rides in the Peak District with my family.

“Instead of sitting in a car I can get fresh air and exercise before and after work. I feel better physically and mentally as a result.”

Rohan Ardley Cropped