GPs in Kingston, Surrey, are to prescribe cycling to patients who need to become more active.
Those with obesity or diabetes could be offered cycling coaching in a 12 week free programme in order to become safe and confident on two wheels.
The mini-Holland area is behind the trial plans, called Go Cycle.
Eric Chasseray, sustainable transport officer at the council, said since setting up the cycling referral trial scheme in September, more than 10 patients had taken up cycling.
He told the Surrey Comet: “Many patients are either new to cycling or have not been on a bike for years and want to refresh their skills and renew their enjoyment of cycling.
“By utilising the expertise and resources from Kingston’s public health department and sustainable travel teams, patients can feel confident that they are receiving the proper care and training by qualified and competent staff in a safe environment.”
GPs, as well as other health workers, can offer the referrals, which entitle patients to free bikes for four weeks, scenic bike rides and gym exercise programmes.
Back in 2014 we reported how the NHS £10 billion a year bill fortackling diabetes and its consequences could be reduced if people rode bikes or walked to work, according to MPs
A group of MPs from all parties met for a debate on cycle safety in the House of Lords after the annual parliamentary bike ride from Kensington to Westminster.
“At a time when we have millions of pre-diabetic adults, if cycling was a pill, every GP across the country would be prescribing it,” said Mary Creagh, the then-shadow transport secretary.
“In terms of added value, in terms of concentration for kids in lessons, in terms of massive health benefits - get more people walking and cycling and we’ll have gone some way to reducing that £10 billion a year burden on the NHS from diabetes.”
Dame Sally Davies, the government’s chief medical officer, said: “Cycling for all or part of your 150 minutes of physical activity each week can help to prevent or manage over 20 long-term conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and mental health problems.”
Research published in 2013 indicated that cycling, walking and even using public transport were associated with lower risk of being overweight and therefore reduced chance of developing type II diabetes.
Cyclists were around half as likely to have diabetes as drivers.