Hundreds of poorer adults in Scotland could benefit from interest-free loans of up to £500 to buy a bike.
Some 500 loans with no upfront payments are being offered by two credit unions and the Cycling UK charity to get people on lower incomes moving on two wheels.
Six in 10 (62%) Scottish households with a net yearly income of more than £50,000 have access to one or more bikes but the figure falls to one in five for households with an income of £15,000 and less, the charity said.
The scheme is funded by the Scottish Government to help people who would struggle to buy a bike outright in one go, and is open to any adult eligible to join the Capital or Scotwest credit unions.
This includes people who live or work in the 21 local authorities covered by the two credit unions, people who work for one of 186 partner employers of the credit unions, Young Scot Card holders aged 18 or over and members of Community Trade Union.
The Access Bikes scheme launches on Monday, the first day of Scotland’s “climate week” and was hailed by minister for active travel Patrick Harvie.
The Scottish Greens co-leader said: “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 the natural choice for shorter every day trips by 2030.”
The local authorities covered by the scheme are: Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Ayrshire, North, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire and West Lothian.
Suzanne Forup, Cycling UK’s head of development for Scotland, said it could “make a big difference”, adding: “Many people in Scotland struggle to access essential services or work because they face a lack of affordable transport options.”
She added: “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.”
Information about the Access Bikes scheme can be found at: www.cyclinguk.org/accessbikes.