Falkirk e-bike scheme is a winner

Falkirk Active Travel Hub‘s e-bike scheme has scooped a top award for helping the community get more active and reduce carbon emissions.

It landed the Active Travel Project of the Year honour at Path’s for All‘s annual Volunteer Awards held at the Scottish Parliament yesterday (Tuesday, 10 September) after rolling out Scotland’s largest electric bike scheme at Forth Valley Royal Hospital and other locations across the region.

The project is the UK’s first cross-regional e-bike scheme connecting Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire, with 120 e-bikes for hire.

Project coordinator Ray Burr and his volunteers were recognised for creating strong partnerships and reaching wider audiences to bring about a significant shift towards sustainable travel.  

The group has also helped to set up an active travel hub at Lornshill Academy in Clackmannanshire to encourage staff and pupils to walk and cycle to school, through cycling training and maintenance sessions and organising a school-wide step count challenge.

“We aim to make cycling more accessible for everyone, making it more enjoyable and sociable for those who already cycle and support those who are just getting on the saddle,” says Ray.

The group now also runs a fortnightly bike ride from the hub on Falkirk High Street to the Kelpies or the Falkirk Wheel.

There are now a seven volunteers enrolled on the Falkirk Active Travel Group, which is committed to helping people improve their physical, mental and social health.

“It’s fantastic to see how our work is changing people’s everyday travel habits and it’s extremely rewarding to see those who were nervous about cycling – really take to it with our support.

“Our volunteers work tirelessly to invest their time and hard work into this project for the community, so it’s really rewarding for our group to be recognised for this award. Winning this award just shows how much potential projects like this have.”

Falkirk Active Travel Hub is part of the ‘Healthier Greener Falkirk Project’, a combined initiative between Falkirk Council and Forth Environment Link.

Lee Craigie, Active Nation Commissioner for Scotland, said: “A change in mind-set that stops people using their cars for short journeys is not easy to achieve, so a massive thank you to these volunteers who selflessly give up their time to support and encourage people in Scotland to cycle, walk and  scoot more often.

“In creating more spaces that encourage active travel, they’re not just improving the nation’s health – they’re also doing a great deal to look after our environment and improve the air we breathe.”

Ian Findlay CBE, chief officer at Paths for All, said: “Getting outside and going for a walk or travelling sustainably is so valuable for our personal health and for the health of our planet, so it’s very important to take the time to thank people like the volunteers from Falkirk Active Travel Hub, whose selfless efforts are making a huge difference to the lives of others around them.

“It’s inspiring to think that, collectively, these volunteers who are invested in making walking and cycling a bigger part of daily life are helping to incite important behavioural change.”

Alison Johnstone MSP said: “I am delighted to have hosted this Paths for All award ceremony in Parliament. I share with them their aim to create a happier, healthier Scotland.

“Walking is good for your body and mind, while also bringing positive benefits to communities and the environment, through reducing social isolation and improving air quality.“Thank you to all the volunteers for giving up their time to keep paths open, and inspire and support others to walk and cycle.”

Paths for All works with the Scottish Government and 30 partners to support and deliver national policies, such as the National Walking Strategy and other ‘active travel’ initiative.

The charity awards thousands of pounds worth of grants to worthwhile projects that improve health, promote walking and improve environments for people to be active in.

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Lynda Hamilton Parker is a Scottish PR expert and independent publisher

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