A CAMPAIGN to get people more active in the Forth Valley is picking up pace thanks to a delivery of electric bikes which people can use for free as part of a short trial.

The 16-strong electric bike fleet, funded through Transport Scotland’s e-Bike Grant scheme, will allow community organisations, businesses and individuals across Forth Valley to try out an e-bike for free with trials lasting from three days up to three weeks.

The bikes will be available from Stirling and Falkirk Active Travel Hubs (8 at each location) as part of Forth Environment Link’s popular e-bike lending library.

One person who is enjoying the e-bikes is Menstrie man Andrew Morris, who, thanks to the bikes, is now cycling a fantastic 64 miles every day to and from work at Eurocentral.

He said: “I found the e-bike trial hugely eye opening to the potential of these bikes. I am an experienced cyclist and have used an e-bike a couple of times in the past but never for my very hilly 52km each way cycle commute, I had assumed was just too far. I was wrong.

“Using the trial bike made clear to me how capable an e-bike can be and I quickly realised what a game changer these things could be for sustainable transport. They are that good.

“The trial reassured me that an e-bike conversion kit for my existing bike, which I had been considering for a while, would be a sensible investment. The kit has given me the benefits of an electric assist without having to buy a new bike and it is so discrete most people wouldn’t know I have a motor helping me out.

“I had previously only managed to cycle to and from my work on a couple of occasions in the last five years. Now I can quite realistically do half my commuting by bike.”

E-bikes have both a battery and a motor, so riders can select different levels of ‘assist’ when pedalling to make journeys easier and help them tackle longer distances or hilly routes.

With cycling 50 miles costing as little as 5p in electricity if charged at home, e-bikes are already proving a hit across Forth Valley.

Stirling Active Travel Hub project officer, Stephen Willis, said: “We now have a wide range of different types of electric bikes that you can take-away to try for free.

“There are foldaway bikes which you can store and transport easily, hybrid bikes which are great for commuting, step-thrus which don’t have a bar making them great for people with mobility issues and mountain bikes for those who want to head off road.”