Free bike hire is being offered to patients in Cardiff to help improve their health.
The pilot scheme, led by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, is aimed at people with Type 2 diabetes, and those who are overweight or suffering from low mood, anxiety and depression.
The health board says the pilot is a first for the UK. Initially it will run at two GP practices, offering a free six-month membership to the city’s bike hire scheme, operated by Nextbike.
Tom Porter, a consultant in public health medicine with Cardiff and Vale University Board and Public Health Wales, told LTT: “We are starting out very small to understand if there is a demand. We will look at how easy patients find it to use the codes and unlock the bikes, whether they carry on once they have started using bike hire and if, for example, they would be more likely to take part if we offered free helmets.
“In three months we will look at how many patients we have, how the process is working and whether we should take things forward to a full evaluation. This is a fact-finding process and we will tweak things along the way.”
Porter hopes between 10 and 20 patients will take part in the pilot. “Should we only get a couple of people then it might be a case of going back to the drawing board.” If the pilot attracts a core group of users then the board will work with a university to carry out a full pilot to evaluate the medium and long-term health outcomes.
The cost of the pilot is being covered by Nextbike. “The cost of membership is very small compared with the cost of medication,” Porter said. “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 wellbeing too.”
Nextbike launched bike hire in Cardiff last May, originally with 250 bikes. The fleet will reach 1,000 this summer.
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