AN ELECTRONIC bike scheme for NHS and key workers is to be extended in the Forth Valley thanks to National Lottery funding.

Stirling-based Forth Environment Link will extend its free hire scheme after receiving nearly £10,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund.

The money will be used to purchase another five bikes to help key workers get around.

The initiative has been helping people such as MacMillan nurse Helen Upfold during the coronavirus pandemic.

She said: “The ebike has totally transformed my commute.

“I'm enjoying the exercise and feeling much healthier for it.

“It's been really good for my mental health too.

“The job I do can be quite emotionally draining and the fresh air is such a tonic.'

Emma Thomas, from Forth Environment Link, has welcomed the funding.

She said: “ Like many charities, our reaction to the Covid-19 crisis was to utilise the resources we had in any way that could help our Forth Valley community.

“Our ebike library has always been popular but we noticed a sharp increase in NHS Forth Valley staff requesting bikes to help them get to work.

“We quickly launched the Ebikes for Key Workers project, providing free long-term loans of ebikes to 68 key workers.

“The was crucial during a time when public transport was not available for many, offering workers reassurance and reducing anxieties of how to access work.”

The project has been so popular there is a waiting list of almost 90 key workers, which is set to be reduced with the purchase of the five new bikes.

Emma added: “Ebikes are great for everyone and a fantastic tool for minimising some of the common barriers to cycling such as feeling unfit or not wanting to arrive at work sweaty.

“For every pedal stroke made, the bike provides a little extra assistance, which is great for hills and longer commutes.

“Cycling is also great for mental health, providing the feel-good factor and the feedback we’ve received from key workers has attested to that.

“We are blown away by their enthusiasm for cycling and hope it’s here to stay, well beyond Covid-19.”