A FREE roadside bike repair service for NHS key workers has launched in Forth Valley.

Charity Forth Environment Link now dispatches bike medics to the scene of breakdowns in the region.

In a release, the charity said: "The free call-out service will cover Forth Valley and operate in a similar way to car breakdown recovery, with bikes being repaired at the roadside or taken away for repair.

"Onward travel will also be covered, so if a bike can't be easily fixed cyclists will be offered a courtesy bike to allow them to finish their journey or receive a lift to work."

The Bike Medic scheme was introduced on September 28, in response to a surge in the number of NHS Forth Valley staff commuting by bike or e-bike.

Ray Burr, Forth Environment Link's active travel co-ordinator, said: "It all began when a local nurse approached us at the beginning of lockdown for help fixing her bike.

"We offered her an e-bike from our free lending library while her bike was in for repair and that snowballed into us providing 75 electric bikes for key workers, as well as wrap around cycling advice and support.

"Since lockdown began, we've been inundated with enquiries from key workers wanting to ditch the car and get in the saddle and we've been only too happy to support them to make that change a reality."

Andrew Murray, NHS Forth Valley's medical director, added: "The creation of the bike mechanic role offers a strong degree of comfort, safety and support which we hope will be a deciding factor for people to get on their bikes and cycle to and from work and for leisure as we move into autumn and winter.

"Feedback from our staff so far has been really positive with staff telling us their fitness has improved, but also the bikes have helped their mental health and wellbeing too.

"At such a challenging time as this, this is very encouraging."

Bike medics are available between 7am and 7pm, Monday to Friday, by calling 03333 208635.