203Businesses and community groups are being encouraged to apply for free cycle stands on their premises.

The new Durham County Council initiative is offering organisations stands to help boost their business by offering cyclists secure parking as well as to encourage healthier and more environmentally friendly travel.

Those interested can apply for more than one stand in a range of designs to fit their need, including wall rails, individual or multiple cycle racks and even heart-shaped racks and special planters. Funded by the Local Transport Plan, the service is provided by social enterprise ParkThatBike.

As well as the free stands, successful applicants will also receive advice on its installation and follow up surveys to monitor their success. A recent survey carried out by ParkThatBike showed that, following installation of a stand, those taking part in the scheme saw a 54 per cent increase in cycling.

Interested groups and businesses can apply online at www.parkthatbike.info or by calling 01594 564 344.

Cllr Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “Free bike racks are just one of a number of ways we are working with businesses and communities to encourage and support greener and healthier travel across the county. I hope to see many more premises and venues taking advantage of this offer and showing their support for a healthier County Durham.”

Scheme co-ordinator Peter Andrews, from ParkThatBike, said: “The offer of free cycle parking is well worth taking up to encourage local people to make smarter travel choices. We are particularly keen to see applications from small businesses, voluntary sector groups and good causes who would otherwise struggle to afford quality cycle parking.”

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