The UK’s first school bike share scheme will be officially launched in Stirling today in an attempt to stem the significant drop-off in pupils cycling when they move to secondary.
Pupils at three high schools are being given free access to cycles in an extension of the public hire scheme in the city.
Figures show only about one in four pupils continue cycling to classes after leaving primary school.
Just 1.4 per cent of Scottish secondary pupils cycled to school last year, which has only marginally increased since 2010.
The figure, from cycle and walking developers Sustrans, contrasts sharply with the 5.2 per cent cycling rate among primary pupils, which has gone up from 3.7 per cent over the same period.
Forth Environment Link (FEL), which has established the Scottish Government-funded scheme, has lowered the normal minimum age for bike share from 18 to 14 to enable pupils to take part.
Ten bikes will be stationed at each of three high schools - Bannockburn, Stirling, and Wallace - with a fourth, St Modan’s, to follow.
Pupils can cycle free for up to an hour, and can also use the 160 bikes in FEL’s public hire scheme, operated by Nextbike.
They are also given a half day of cycle training and a voucher for a helmet.
FEL active travel development manager Shirley Paterson said: “There is a distinct drop off in cycling numbers between primary and secondary school so we’re targeting pupils aged 14 and over to get them back on their bikes before they head off to the world of work or further study.
“By incorporating cycling into their daily lives now, they’re much more likely to become active adults.”
Nextbike UK managing director Krysia Solheim said: “We’re thrilled to be launching the UK’s first-ever bike share for school pupils in Stirling.
“We often have requests from existing customers and young people about lowering our customer age limit to include older teens.”
Transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “As we continue to deliver high quality walking and cycling infrastructure across Scotland, it is also crucial we create more opportunities to access bikes to make cycling an easier choice for everyday journeys, making our towns and cities safer and friendlier.”