SCOTLAND’S largest self-service cycle hire scheme was launched today by Glasgow City Council, with operator NextBike running 400 bikes at 31 sites.
The £600,000 “mass automated cycle hire” (Mach) initiative comes four years after Bike2Go started in Dumfries, with Edinburgh planning to follow suit.
Pick-up and drop-off points in Glasgow are located at train, bus and Subway stations, visitor attractions and universities.
An extra six sites will operate during next month’s Commonwealth Games, including the SECC, Hampden Park and Ibrox Stadium.
However, the move comes days after Scotland on Sunday revealed that three sections of the national cycle network along the Clyde through Glasgow will be shut during the Games for security reasons.
Cycle parking will also be up to half a mile away from venues, such as Hampden.
Annual membership of the hire scheme costs £60, with usage free for the first 30 minutes, then £1 an hour up to a maximum of £5 per 24 hours.
However, bikes can be hired by non-members at £1 per half hour up to a maximum of £10 for 24 hours.
The bikes are fitted with GPS equipment to assist with their retrieval if stolen.
City council leader Gordon Matheson said it hoped to capitalise on the Games to boost cycling.
He said: “Glasgow now joins other major cities around the world in having a bike scheme that is attractive, affordable and easy to use.
“Hiring of the cycles will be quick, easy and user-friendly.
“The operation of the scheme will be made efficient through the use of tried and trusted technology, such as mobile phones.
“This is the latest step, in addition to the millions of pounds we’re investing on cycle routes across the city, to making Glasgow one of the UK’s most cycling-friendly cities,”
German firm NextBike runs similar schemes in 80 other cities.
A spokeswoman for Edinburgh City Council said: “We have been exploring the development of a bike hire scheme in Edinburgh and are currently looking into funding options to take this forward.”