HUNDREDS of people are saddling up to use Blackpool’s pay and pedal cycling scheme.
So far the resort’s hire bikes have travelled just under 90,000 miles and last month alone there were 1,500 rentals – the busiest month ever.
It comes as new research shows bicycle rental schemes save lives by encouraging urban dwellers to be more active. A report in the British Medical Journal says they should be expanded to more towns and cities.
Blackpool was the first town in the UK to adopt one of the schemes and now boasts 52 rental stations and 500 bikes.
Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member for tourism and culture on Blackpool Council, said: “Blackpool is leading the way as a cycle town. The number of people who use our scheme is growing and we are putting on a number of events focused at getting people in the saddle.
“Cycling is a healthier, greener and cheaper way for people to get around town.
“The best way for people to keep healthy is regular exercise, and cycling is one of the easiest and cheapest methods for everyone to do so.”
A study of the Barcelona equivalent of Blackpool’s Hire a Bike scheme found that short, regular cycle rides reduced the number of annual deaths by 12.
Researchers concluded: “Low cost public bicycle sharing systems are worth implementing in other cities, not only for the health benefits, but also for potential co-benefits such as a reduction in air pollution and greenhouse gasses.”
It is the first study to demonstrate the positive health benefits of a cycling scheme.