THE first people to take part in a £600,000 cycle hire scheme have got on their bikes to try out the initiative in Glasgow.

The Mass Automated Cycle Hire scheme will see bikes stationed at 31 permanent locations in the city, where people can rent them by the half hour or hour.

Glasgow City Council, which launched the scheme a month before the Commonwealth Games, said it was an "attractive, affordable and easy to use" system.

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Under the initiative, customers will be able to register as a member or a casual user through the website, by smartphone or by telephone.

Once registered, they are provided with a username, membership and personal identification number.

Annual subscribers will be given an identification card which can be swiped over the cycle's on-board computer sensor to speed up the hire process, and as many as four bikes can be hired on one card.

Yearly membership costs £60, with hire free for the first 30 minutes and £1 an hour, capped at £5 for up to 24 hours.

Short-term users would pay £1 for half an hour's hire, with each additional half hour costing £1 and capped at £10 for up to 24 hours.

Local businesses can also sign up for a corporate membership and the bikes are protected by a chain lock with a four-digit code and GPS.

Council leader Gordon Matheson said: "The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games will leave a lasting legacy in the city, giving us an ideal opportunity to capitalise on, and support, the continuing growth of cycling in Glasgow."

The scheme is operated by NextBike, which runs similar initiatives in 80 cities around the world.