A unique new scheme will offer interest-free loans of up to £500 to help people in Scotland to spread the cost of buying a bicycle and to get cycling.
Charity Cycling UK is working with Capital Credit Union and Scotwest Credit Union to offer 500 loans through their Access Bikes scheme, which aims to bring mobility and freedom to people with limited transport options.
The loans have no upfront payments and will be repaid in manageable instalments, providing a safe and affordable way for people to buy an adult bike and start cycling.
Funded by the Scottish Government, the scheme is targeted towards people on lower incomes who want to cycle but may struggle to afford the full cost of a bike in one go.
While 62% of Scottish households with a net annual income of over £50,000 have access to one or more bicycles, this falls to below 20% for households with an income of £15,000 and below.
Suzanne Forup, Cycling UK's head of development for Scotland said: "We believe this innovative scheme can make a big difference for people who want to cycle but don't have access to a bike.
"Many people in Scotland struggle to access essential services or work because they face a lack of affordable transport options. We know this exclusion can be tackled through access to a bicycle, but paying for one upfront is often not an option.
"Access Bikes will provide interest free loans so that people can buy a bike and discover the freedom, convenience and pleasure of cycling.
"For those who need a little extra help, Cycling UK will also be on hand with bespoke support from one-to-one cycling sessions to advice on finding the ideal bike."
The innovative pilot scheme is thought to be the first in Europe to offer interest free credit union loans to purchase bikes.
Loans can be used to purchase new and secondhand adult bikes, plus accessories such as helmets and locks.
Participants can also access tailored support from Cycling UK including help choosing the right bike, cycle training or confidence building sessions and support to access local cycle groups.
Launching on the first day of Scotland's Climate Week, the pilot scheme is open to any adult who is eligible to become a member of Capital or Scotwest credit unions.
This includes people who live or work in the geographical area covered by the two credit unions which comprises 21 local authorities, people who work for one of 186 partner employers of the credit unions, Young Scot Card holders aged 18 and over and members of Community Trade Union.
Minister for Active Travel, Patrick Harvie said:
"I'm pleased that the Scottish Government is investing over £390,000 to offer affordable access to bikes, in addition to specialist support from Cycling UK.
"This builds on the interest free loan support we already offer for e-bikes, and for the first time, with support from participating credit unions, we are exploring a new route to tackling transport poverty for people on lower incomes.
"Promoting cycling is something the government must do to respond to the climate emergency. To make cycling easier, infrastructure is critical, but so too is affordable access to bikes - and I look forward to the success of the Access Bikes initiative.
"We need to see more innovation like this, and by increasing the budget for active travel to at least £320 million by the end of this Parliament, we will support more projects working to transform Scotland into an active nation, where we make walking, wheeling and cycling is the natural choice for shorter everyday trips by 2030."
Find out more about the Access Bikes scheme and apply for a loan at www.cyclinguk.org/accessbikes.