GPs across the UK could soon prescribe cycling lessons to those who need to become more active.
Doctors in Kingston, Surrey, have been piloting the scheme with great success. So far 10 patients have been able to access free bikes, 12 weeks of professional training and group rides and gym sessions.
People with diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and mental health problems could all be set to benefit from the referrals.
In my opinion, this is a very positive move. The majority of us learn to ride a bike as a kid, but then give it up as we get older – and the view of cycling now is that it’s a bit of extreme sport for MAMILs. This scheme could really do some excellent work in rebuilding people’s confidence on bikes, and getting them back in the saddle.
I’ve seen the benefits first hand of taking up cycling – it makes me healthier, happier and much, much fitter. And while I may have had a few months off the bike, I’m still a huge advocate for cycling.
But there is a real risk that his scheme could fail – it’s not enough to just put someone in the saddle for 12 weeks. We need better infrastructure and education for all road users. Let us look to our neighbours in the Netherlands and Scandinavia. It’s all very well giving someone the confidence to ride a bike in a park or alongside an in structure, but if they have a mishap the first time they go on the road… then it’s all been for nothing.
So while this is a step in the right direction, it’s down to the Government to make sure that he funding and infrastructure is in place to make the scheme a real success.