By Adam Hale, Press Association
NHS patients will be given prescriptions for town bikes in an attempt to cut the risk of death from heart disease.
GPs in Cardiff will be trialling the bike share scheme in what is the first of its kind in the UK.
The pilot scheme, launched on Wednesday, will allow doctors from Lansdowne Surgery and Fairwater Health Centre in the Welsh capital to prescribe patients free 30-minute hire sessions for six months with bike share provider nextbike.
It is being funded by the company for the trial period, which will run for “a number of months”, with the hope it will then expand to other surgeries across the city.
The company, which has 500 bikes available across Cardiff, also operate in Bath, Milton Keynes, Glasgow, Exeter, Belfast, Stirling and the University of Warwick.
Dr Tom Porter, a consultant with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Public Health Wales, said regular cycling could cut the risk of dying from heart disease in half.
He said: “Not only can cycling to work reduce your risk of death from heart disease by 52%, but it’s also a great way to get around the city without using your car, making it good for both you and the environment around you, and helping to keep the air clean for everyone while reducing carbon emissions.”
Dr Karen Pardy, one of the GPs who will be able to prescribe nextbike to their patients, said: “Whilst we are aware of the many benefits of exercise for our patients, people are sometimes reluctant to engage.
“Nextbike on prescription allows people to have a go at cycling around Cardiff and realise how this can help to support their overall well being.”