National Healthcare Service workers in London have been given free access to the city’s share bike scheme to help them get to work during the coronavirus pandemic.
It's one of a few changes made in London to help people get to essential services and make sure those services can operate.
All NHS staff have been given access codes to the city’s red Santander bikes—sometimes also known as Boris bikes—waiving the 24-hour access fee and giving them free 30 minute trips.
Docking stations near hospitals are also being prioritised for service so that they have a regular supply of bikes.
As well as making share bikes free for NHS staff, mayor of London Sadiq Khan has also temporarily lifted road user charging in London’s ultra-low emission and low emission zones as a way of removing barriers to people getting around.
However, Mayor Khan did say the lifting of the charge was not being done to encourage driving.
“This is not an invitation to take to your cars. To save lives we need the roads clear for ambulances, doctors, nurses and other critical workers. This is an unprecedented time and I know Londoners are doing everything they can to look after each other,” he said.
Almost more than ever, bike riding is the best way to get around – it helps you maintain health by keeping you physically active and you can keep your social distance from other people.
The @mayorlondon & @tfl have just announced free access to @SantanderCycles for all NHS workers. Docking stations near hospitals are being prioritised to ensure there is a regular supply of bikes for medical staff to use. pic.twitter.com/zUYVuR5MXd
— Will Norman (@willnorman) March 20, 2020
Removal of bikes in Milton Keynes
While central London NHS workers have free access to bikes, people in Milton Keynes are not so lucky. Santander bikes have been taken off the streets in that city because there are not enough staff to provide maintenance.
Krysia Solheim, nextbike UK MD, said: “After discussions with our sponsors, Santander, we’ve had to make the difficult decision to withdraw the Santander Cycles fleet from the streets of Milton Keynes and to suspend the system with immediate effect for the foreseeable future.”
Unfortunately, a high level of staff absence amongst our local service team means we’re not able to maintain the fleet to a safe standard for our riders.”