Industry ‘warmly welcomes’ UK government’s cycling on prescription trial

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The micromobility industry has welcomed the UK government’s plans to trial cycling on prescription.

GPs in eleven areas in England are now able to prescribe walking and cycling to improve mental and physical health, and reduce disparities across the country. 

The shared transport charity Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK) has repeatedly called for measures to encourage GPs to prescribe cycling.

“Cycling improves mental and physical wellbeing, and we have been encouraging GPs to highlight these benefits – so this announcement is welcome,” said CoMoUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Antonia Roberts. 

“Bikeshare schemes will be well placed to support the pilots, as this saves people money because they do not need to own their own bike and ensures that more users can be reached.” 

A total of £12.7m has been awarded in multi-year funding to these local authority areas. The funding will go towards several pilot projects, contributing to adult cycle training, free bike loan schemes, infrastructure improvements and walking groups. 

“We welcome this decision to trial ‘cycling on prescription’ to boost active travel transport whilst reducing congestion and pollution in our cities,” Voi’s Head of Public Policy for UKI and the Netherlands, Matthew Pencharz, told Zag Daily. 

“We believe a more holistic approach should be taken looking at physical and mental wellbeing, which is increasingly important, particularly after the pandemic. In the UK, new research involving Voi, the University of Leeds and the University of Cambridge is being developed to understand the impacts of e-scooters on wellbeing, and while the full results are not available yet, the preliminary analysis indicates that self-reported stress, anxiety and mood associated with e-scooter use are improved for many e-scooter users.” 

Local authorities which have been selected for the trial were assessed on a range of factors, including the innovation of proposals submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) and how they would engage with local stakeholders on the scheme. 

Individual authorities were required to present a compelling case for social prescribing in their individual areas, including strong governance processes to spend the funding effectively.

E-bike operator Beryl’s CEO and Co-Founder Phil Ellis told Zag Daily: “This trial is a great idea as cycling is a fun, safe and sustainable way to travel and doing so regularly is a proven way to boost your mental and physical health.

“By getting people out of their cars and onto two wheels we’re not only improving health in the short term, we’re also helping to reduce congestion and carbon emissions which has a positive long term impact on people’s wellbeing.” 

Micromobility operator Superpedestrian, which currently operates the e-scooter trial in Nottingham (one of the trial areas selected), said it warmly welcomes this initiative to encourage active modes such as walking and cycling.

“This will have the added benefit of promoting modal shift,” said Jean Andrews, Superpedestrian’s Policy Director for the UK and Ireland.

The 11 local authority areas that will trial social prescriptions are Bath and North East Somerset, Bradford, Cornwall, Cumbria, Doncaster, Gateshead, Leeds, Nottingham, Plymouth, Suffolk and Staffordshire. 

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