Thousands of people across Scotland took up cycling thanks to bike-sharing schemes, according to a new report published by charity Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK).
The schemes attracted more than 18,000 new users in Glasgow and Edinburgh between June and September last year.
The schemes offered the first 30 minutes of use for free, thanks to grant funding from Transport for Scotland.
As a result of this initiative, one in 10 users said they enjoyed the scheme so much they went on to buy their own bicycle.
Almost three-quarters of users said they experienced an improvement in their physical wellbeing, while 47% said their mental health improved.
Based on these findings, CoMoUK has now recommended bike-sharing is recognised as ‘an essential part of our public transport system,’ and urged future investment in promotions to sign more people u.
They have also suggested that the government expands bike-sharing initiatives into areas of multiple deprivation in order to increase connectivity and reduce inequalities.
Lorna Finlayson, Scotland director for CoMoUK, said: ‘This report shows that when bike-sharing is made available and attractive, people want to take part.
‘Not only will users save money and reduce their own carbon footprint, but they are also likely to experience improvements to their own physical and mental health.
‘The benefits that await governments and councils from promoting shared transport options like this are huge and go well beyond simply hitting environmental targets.’
Cllr Lesley Macinnes, City of Edinburgh Council’s transport and environment convener, said: ‘Were delighted that so many people participated in the cycle hire scheme last year – its clear that these initiatives to promote the scheme opened it up to a whole new audience.
‘During lockdown, we saw a real surge in people taking up cycling for the first time, and its fantastic that those who dont own their own bike could also feel the health, social and environmental benefits of cycling during this time.
‘As we look toward the end of the pandemic, we want to continue encouraging people to try out and enjoy cycling, whether thats through hiring or buying a bike, so we remain committed to improving and investing in cycling infrastructure to make this as easy and attractive as possible.’