back to article Things can't go on like this. You need to get fit for the sake of your health. I'm going to write you a prescription for... an e-bike

The UK’s Sheffield City Council is looking to buy a fleet of electrical bikes to allow local GPs to offer them on prescription as a form of exercise in what is known as Social Prescribing. In a £150,000 tender notice, the council said: "The bikes will be provided to individuals following referral from a GP. As such they need …

  1. Giles C Silver badge

    As far as the health benefits of e-bikes go, maybe Sheffield City Council would accrue better value for money by prescribing the afflicted with circular cycle routes in which they travel only downhill.

    Hmm has Sheffield got MC Escher involved in street planning

    1. Roger Greenwood

      That's certainly what it feels like, even with a map.

    2. Steve Button Silver badge

      I'd say this will only lead to a downward spiral.

      Oh wait, that was your point?

  2. Wilco

    No point in giving people bikes if there's not much chance of them using them because they have dodgy knees or are unfit and overweight. Giving them ebikes is a very good idea, and probably relatively cheap compared to lengthy periods in hospital. Well done to Sheffield for trying something new

    1. Locky

      I concur. A e-bike may be a gateway to the patent taking up normal cycling but didn't because of the initial fitness barrier. Could be interesting to see how this pans out.

      Of course, if half of them get nicked or end up in a canal because the owner doesn't care for them as much as they would it the asset was their own it would be particularly good value for money.

      1. Zimmer

        Upvote for E-bikes


        As someone who cycled to work ( and everywhere else ) for over 25 years and played 5-a-side footy until I was over 60 I am delighted with my E-bike.

        I had to stop the footy and the cycling due to heart problems, the e-bike means I won't kill myself attempting to cycle uphill but still provides me enough exercise pedalling.

        Sadly, no chance of footy (unless walking footy- not quite the same..) .....e-cycle polo anyone...?

        (I once was encouraged to pilot a tandem down Broomgrove Road, Sheffield with the blind owner as the stoker; once was definitely enough, the return trip was uphill and extremely wobbly)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Most people should be able to make it up the Cote de Jenkin road on an e-bike. The same can't be said for a normal bike...

    3. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

      Break the cycle of illness

      I agree - I recently tried to get fit by cyling and almost died of a heart attack while wondering what the hell had happened to my body in the 40 years or so since I last rode a bicycle. It takes so much longer to get fit when one ages, and e-bikes would certainly help ill or old people get over the hump. Some pedalling is better than no pedalling.

    4. Stork Silver badge

      I think it sounds like worth trying

      I am not particularly unfit but got one to use in the summer here (cycling in 30C requires more dedication than I have). And a trailer for shopping.

      It is great fun! You do get some exercise, but all the dull bits like uphill in headwind are less of a hassle.

      I hope at least some of the target group see benefit from the scheme.

  3. Mike 140
    Paris Hilton

    Social Prescribing

    What is Unsocial Prescribing?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Social Prescribing

      Doling out opiates like sweets, on the basis of the kickbacks you get from the drug companies?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Social Prescribing

      Or giving out antibiotics for colds or other viral conditions, just to get rid of the demanding, self righteous, bullies that clog up the waiting rooms at the slightest sniffle!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Social Prescribing

        They have Placebos for those...

  4. deadlockvictim


    eBikes are great for those whose body needs some exercise but not too much. eBikes make the world essentially flat and a steady pace of 20Kh/h is grand.

    I lowered my cholesterol level (without having to resort to medication) over the course of 18 months when I took to cycling to work (15 Kms in 45 mins). I am a fair weather cyclist, so 18 months wasn't as impressive as it sounds (4 months were winter). One of the benefits of eBikes is that you don't need to take a shower once you get to work.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: eBikes

      Well done, you! While it's easy to laugh at e-bikes as somehow a soft option (they are, but so what?), they do get people out in the fresh air and, as you have to pedal, there is always going to be some gentle cardiovascular exercise. And, of course, they make light weight of any shopping.

      I remember when I first saw them and realised that it meant the grandparents could enjoy a day out with the grandchildren. What's not to like about that? Also met a 70-year old out in the hillls who was still able to cycle around 100 km with the help.

      There are still problems with them largely related to separate motor/gearing systems which mean that many people leave them in the highest gear, with the highest degree of support, which means they don't half accelerate at junctions, which is also where most accidents with them occur. I suspect we'll start seeing combined control systems so that people don't have to think about the gears either.

      Another interesting effect they're having by driving up the average price of bikes, is that bikes are gaining status, which means people are more willing to spend money on keeping them maintained: so they go for regular inspections rather than being ridden until they start falling apart. Though I also doubt that you can get a really usable bike for less than £ 100.

      1. Vincent Ballard

        Re: eBikes

        I used an e-bike to get around Normandy (some nice flat parts, some long hills) for a week last summer. I was a bit nervous because I hadn't cycled for a year and still had back pain from being knocked off a non-electric bike by a drunk driver, but the electric support made it relatively painless and enabled me to get around very well despite being unfit.

        If you want to get a usable bike for less than 100 quid, you could try police auctions in Cambridge...

      2. Stork Silver badge

        Cheap conventional bikes

        I don't know about UK, but here in Portugal you can buy a bike for €80, and chances are you will get home on it. That in itself is impressive.

        Experience in maintaining working bikes for our guests has taught me that is too cheap, for €120-€160 you can get something that will do 2-4 years without too much hassle. Then the transmission seizes up, due to dust/salt on one of the nearby bridlepaths. And that price is impressive too, really.

      3. BebopWeBop
        Thumb Up

        Re: eBikes

        Exactly. I cycle a great deal (about 12k miles a year) on pedal power alone, but frankly, anything that gets people onto bikes, whether they go on to cycle without help or not is a good idea and I do know of a couple of people who have replaced most of their car journeys by e-bike, one of whom I occasionally cycle with as she can keep up a brisk pace.

  5. disgruntled yank

    Circular routes, downhill all the way

    Will Sheffield retain Virgil to guide them?

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: Circular routes, downhill all the way

      Just don't put Sisyphus in charge of route planning.

      1. 's water music

        Re: Circular routes, downhill all the way

        he's probably ok for day rides

  6. Caver_Dave Silver badge

    Well built?

    Are the bikes well built (not the riders)? As the cobbles and pot-holes have to be felt to be believed!

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: Well built?

      A number of those on the market have front suspension and appear to be pretty solidly built

  7. Morrie Wyatt

    I wonder.

    If 16 degrees warrants an e-bike, what would they prescribe for Fargo Street in LA?

    (A padded cell perhaps?)

    It has a 33 degree grade and runs an annual challenge to see who can make it to the top on self powered wheeled devices.

    One fellow "Terry (Unigeezer) Peterson" has beaten the challenge many times. He was 55 the first time he did so back in 2011.

    ON A UNICYCLE. Last I heard he is still holds the title as the only person to do so on a unicycle.

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: I wonder.

      One presumes with a really tiny wheel :-)

  8. Unep Eurobats

    Blake Street

    Ouch. That looks tough. But at least there's a pub at the top for more social prescribing.

  9. Steve Button Silver badge

    The Register is at a loss to understand why e-bikes...

    Perhaps this would encourage people who are too unfit to cycle unassisted. You never know, this might get some of them back towards good health. You can also get them for well under £1,000 and of course they can be passed onto someone else once the loan period has ended. If this saves a few people from ending up in ICU, then well worth it.

    Of course, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink. But it seems like it *might* be a sensible thing to prescribe.

  10. Julian Bradfield

    why just social?

    When I was recovering from a very severe respiratory (etc) illness many years ago, my consultant said he wished he could prescribe a skiing holiday. Well, why not:-?

  11. bofh1961

    e-Bike gum?

    Sorry, couldn't resist that one...

    1. ovation1357

      Re: e-Bike gum?

      Bike-eck lad! That's a baddun.

  12. electricmonk


    Looks like El Reg seriously misjudged the mood of the room there. This must be the first time I've seen every single commentard in broad agreement, and all contrary to the article's weird attempt to mock a sensible idea. I've seen a few comments recently bemoaning the Register's descent into Daily Mail-ism and dismissed them as being exaggeration, but this article does make me wonder.

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: Wow

      I think it was written in good humour - so don't be alarmed.

  13. cloth

    Wouldn't cycle in Sheffield if you paid me

    The traffic is horrendous and the hills more so - and I'm a cyclist (sans electric)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    electrical bikes... as a form of exercise

    terrible waste of money and planet resources (think of all the rare-earth metals wasted, etc, etc.). Book them a recurring subscription (doom, mortal combat, etc.) turn them into e-gaming masters of the universe. Much cheaper much greener, much much future-proof.

  15. Mystic Megabyte

    Scary Lithium-ion stuff! Fixing a fully charged bomb in the shed.

    My neighbour shorted out the charging port of his e-bike's battery pack while trying to remove some corrosion. YouTube videos to the rescue!

    Armed with a plastic knife and some isopropyl alcohol I managed to remove the hot glue from the BMS's connector and various other bits that had to be released. I bought a new module for £10 and a roll of Kapton tape for £4 (eBay) and now it is back in working order. That earned me a bottle of whisky :)

    For your info the module was listed as: 10S 36V 15A Li-ion BMS PCM Protection Module.

    Smug git icon?=============>

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: Scary Lithium-ion stuff! Fixing a fully charged bomb in the shed.

      You earned the whisky - cheap work in fact if he had trundled back to the dealer. What was the problem - cleaning corrosion with a metal blade?

  16. Easily Distracte

    Good luck finding £150k-worth of eBikes before Christmas

    As title. There are _literally_ no eBike in the UK warehouses of most bike / eBike brands in the UK right now, and leadtimes for next-Model Year bikes are going to be around the October-November timeframe, with no delays added in yet.

    Lovely idea, but most retailers that have been approached for this tender have had to decline as the bikes just aren't there.

  17. DWRandolph

    does sound daft at first

    but if actually used, an e-bike could help someone get over the hump of being in too bad a condition to start exercising

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