Saddling up for electric bike project in Kyle

Kate Hathway, Rhoda Whatley and Murdo Macrae are ready to hit the road on the
Kyle community e-bikes. PHOTO: Willie Urquhart/WHFP

An initiative based in Kyle is offering free trials of electric bikes to people with long-term health conditions.

Kyle community e-bikes is part of the Let’s Get On With It Together project, a Highland-wide scheme to offer self-management support to people with a range of conditions. Skye and Lochalsh LGOWIT co-ordinator Kate Hathway purchased the bikes on behalf of the project following a successful bid to the Energy Saving Trust last year.

“The idea came about as LGOWIT was represented locally as part of the Highland Green Health Partnership with the aim of working with health practitioners to encourage better access to the natural environment for improved health,” she told the Free Press. “Kyle had been identified as a priority area and electric bikes looked like a good option for a wide age range of folk.”

The e-bikes were delivered a month into the first lockdown so were quickly utilised by key workers. Since their arrival there have been 48 free trials, averaging three weeks per user. Common long-term conditions are arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint-replacement rehabilitation, anxiety and depression and those who struggle with weight bearing exercise. The bikes are stored on Church Road and are maintained by Kate’s husband, Ian Mackay, owner of Skye MTB Adventures.

“While we have prioritised people with long-term conditions –around 65 per cent of users – we’ve also enabled wider members of the community to trial them as it’s better that they’re out and about all the time,” said Kate. “With the different power setting options the bikes can be as easy or as challenging as you want them to be.

“Initially a taxi-trike was purchased along with four bikes but it just couldn’t cope with the hills in the area, so an additional two bikes will be bought to replace the trike.

“It’s a shame because the idea of the trike was to help combat isolation and get folk stuck at home out and about in the fresh air,” Kate said.

The project is due to continue until August 2021 and between now and then LGOWIT will consider legacy ideas for the e-bikes beyond that date.

“If the Skye cycle way ever gets developed then it would be great to have a fleet of e-bikes available for the community as part of a network joining Kyle, Kyleakin and Broadford and so that would definitely be a good option to explore,” Kate added.

If you would like a free trial of an e-bike contact Kate Hathway on 07454950401, 01599 534731 or