GPs will refer patients suffering from health problems such as diabetes to professional cycling trainers in a bid to encourage residents to get active.

Kingston Council has begun trialling the scheme, which will see patients work with a dedicated team of professional coaches during a 12-week free trial in the hope they will take up cycling.

The trial is being run by the team behind mini-Holland, the council multi-million pound project to build European–style cycling tracks across Kingston.

The scheme, officially called Go Cycle by the council, has been plagued by problems since plans emerged – including ill-fated proposals to demolish New Malden’s Fountain Roundabout and the trial closure of Surbiton Crescent.

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 said: “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.”

Referrals are accepted from GPs and a range of specialist health professionals, including physiotherapists, mental health professionals, dieticians and allied health professionals. 

The 12 week programme includes a range of fixed appointments and privileges, from free use of bikes for the first four weeks, cycle rides to the borough’s scenic hotspots and tailored gym exercise programmes.

The council hopes to roll out the programme in full in spring.