A new cycle loan scheme is giving Ellon pupils access to a new set of wheels and a chance to stay fit.
Students at Ellon Academy and Inverurie-based Kellands Primary School are jointly part of the new initiative.
A fleet of bikes and safety equipment are now available for pupils to borrow on either a long or short-term basis from the Ellon Academy bike library.
Working in partnership with Sustrans, which promotes cycling and walking initiatives, the project launched this month.
The process is similar to borrowing a book from the library, students will be able to loan the bikes at any time for as long as they need.
Way to help families who ‘can’t afford to drive’ to school
Usage of the bikes will be tracked through GPS monitors which will help the transport charity access how well the project is going.
Principal Teacher of pupil development Nat Coe is leading on the project at Ellon Academy.
He said: “Sustrans presented us with an opportunity to use funding from the Scottish Government to develop a scheme to encourage young people to use bikes.
“We have used the money to buy around 50 mountain bikes to populate a bike library on the school campus where kids can apply to take it away for six, eight or even 12 months.
“It is just a way to encourage cycling and support young people with their wellbeing and families who can’t afford to drive their kids to school.”
‘Passport to independence’
Pupils taking part in the scheme will complete an online form and scan a QR code.
The forms will then be assessed before bikes are handed out.
Mr Coe added: “My role at the school is all about giving opportunities to pupils who didn’t have them before.
“I grew up in a town like Ellon and having a bike when I was a teenager was my passport to independence.”
“Having a bike allows you to get to the shops or see friends. I am keen for the library to benefit kids during school time, but I am equally passionate about it being used during the school holidays and weekends.”
Scheme could be implemented at other schools
If the scheme goes well over the initial pilot year, it may be extended so that parents and carers can also borrow bikes.
Other schools across Aberdeenshire and Scotland could also become a part of the programme.
The community is being asked by the school to consider designs for the storage facility to make it a community-focused project.
Julie Arbuckle, Sustrans I Bike Coordinator, said: “We’re delighted to be able to offer bike loans to pupils in two Aberdeenshire schools through our Access To Bikes (A2B) pilot project.
“Riding a bike should be something that every child and young person gets to experience, so being able to provide the use of a bike to those who wouldn’t otherwise have that freedom is really important.”