May 11, 2020
Frontline workers in Cardiff will be able to use the city’s Nextbike scheme for free following a joint venture between the operator and two of Cardiff’s universities.
Cardiff Metropolitan University have jointly funded the scheme with Cardiff University and providers Nextbike to enable NHS workers and those offering critical support during the coronavirus pandemic to use the bikes for free.
It follows similar rollouts in Glasgow, Stirling and Hillingdon in London, where free memberships have been offered to key workers who are still having to travel to and from work during the pandemic.
Nextbike MD Krysia Solheim thanked the universities, as well as Pedal Power which continues to operate the system locally and who have become essential workers themselves.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to has been incredibly understanding and supportive over what we are trying to achieve,” said Ms Solheim.
“This is about uniting in the face of adversity and helping our frontline workers deliver a service with as much safety as possible on their commute to work.
“We are a small company and simply could not have done this without our partners’ support.”
She also called on the business community in the region to support the continuation of the funding so more key workers could use nextbike to travel safely.
“If there are other businesses in Cardiff that would like to join us to extend this program beyond one month, please reach out.”
The scheme will offer 500 free memberships to NHS staff and other essential workers, which means the first 30 minutes of every rental is free. The memberships will be valid for one month from redemption and will be first come first serve.
A spokesperson for Cardiff Metropolitan University added: “In these unprecedented times it is only right that we do everything we can to support the national efforts to combat this disease. Supporting essential workers including NHS staff in this small way is, we hope, one less thing to worry about for those who need to travel to work to help keep us safe and well.”
Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport at Cardiff Council, Councillor Caro Wild explained: “With the lockdown in place for over six weeks now, it seems there has been an increase in the number of people cycling on Cardiff’s roads. Whether this is to get to work for key workers or for people to go on their daily exercise. This is encouraging to see and we ask all nextbike users to abide by the advice that is given on the nextbike app about cleanliness and hygiene when using the bikes during these difficult times.”
Dr Tom Porter, consultant in Public Health Medicine and lead for Healthy Travel Wales, said staying active during the current lockdown was really important for both physical and mental well-being.
“Many people have already noticed the improvements in air quality in our towns and cities as more people get out to walk and cycle and ditch their car. It’s therefore fantastic to see nextbike extending free memberships to all NHS staff working in Cardiff, so staff can get around for essential journeys while helping themselves and the environment.”
Ms Solheim said while cycling was the perfect way to keep a safe distance from other commuters during the pandemic, she urged riders to take sensible health precautions.
“Stay home. If you need to go out for an essential trip, we are here. We’re urging all of our customers to take sensible and responsible measures when using the bikes, including following official social distancing rules, taking into account hand-washing and hygiene guidelines and not using our bikes if they are showing any Coronavirus symptoms.
“We’re cleaning the handlebars and bike computers of all bicycles in the field and in the workshop. We're also recommending customers wear gloves when using the bikes, as well as washing hands before and after use.”
The fleet remains operational for regular customers, who can still use the bikes to get their daily dose of exercise and essential trips.