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City cycle scheme overtakes Boris bikes in first fortnight

GLASGOW'S new hire cycles are being used more frequently than London's famous Boris bikes, according to figures from the company behind the scheme.

flying START: Bikes were borrowed more than 2500 times in the first 12 days of the cycle scheme in Glasgow, with the average hire lasting almost an hour. Picture: Mark Mainz
flying START: Bikes were borrowed more than 2500 times in the first 12 days of the cycle scheme in Glasgow, with the average hire lasting almost an hour. Picture: Mark Mainz

Operator Nextbike said the Mass Automated Cycle Hire (Mach) scheme had got off to a flying start in Scotland's biggest city, despite admitting some teething troubles with the distinctive three-speed machines.

In the first 12 days of the scheme, Glasgow's bikes were rented 1.24 times per day on average - higher than the 1.16 daily rate in London.

The figures also suggest Scots are pedalling further - or much more slowly - than Londoners, with the average hire in Glasgow lasting 58 minutes, compared with just 17 minutes in London.

The scheme recorded 2505 ­rentals in its first 12 days, a figure that has since risen to over 3000.

Latest figures show more than 1600 cyclists have registered to use the bikes. The longest journey so far was to Loch Lomond.

The encouraging start comes despite reports of mechanical problems with some of the bikes.

Registered scheme members have also experienced technical hitches with the smartphone app used to rent and return them.

In some cases locks have failed to open after the four-digit combination has been sent to the user's phone, while a number of parked bikes have appeared as "occupied" on the app.

Rob Grisdale, managing ­director of Nextbike UK, said a handful of users had experienced problems but insisted hitches were being resolved.

He said: "Overall the number of complaints has been very low. We've got off to a strong start in Glasgow."

Nextbike operates schemes in its native Germany and other countries including Poland, ­Switzerland, Austria and Turkey.

In the UK, the company runs a scheme in Bath and is due to launch in Stirling.

The Glasgow scheme, which is supported by the city council, started last month with 168 bikes but a further 170 will be added this Saturday. It will become the biggest UK public hire scheme outside London when a final 62 bikes are rolled out early next month, taking the total to 400.

There are 31 hire sites around the city. As well as bus, train and subway stations, landmarks served by the scheme include Glasgow Cathedral and the Riverside Museum.

Six additional temporary sites will be set up during the Commonwealth Games.

Users register online or over the phone either as annual members or casual riders.

Casual hire costs £1 per half hour, capped at £10 for up to 24 hours. Annual membership costs £60, with hire free for the first 30 minutes then £1 an hour, capped at £5 for up to 24 hours.

A Glasgow City Council ­spokesman said: "The people of Glasgow have clearly embraced the bike scheme within two weeks of its launch.

"The bikes are being seen all over the city - as far afield as Loch Lomond, in fact - and are being used by commuters, students and visitors."

The spokesman added: "User feedback has been very positive and the anticipated small number of early teething problems are being quickly resolved.

"This is yet further progress, in addition to the millions of pounds we're investing on cycle routes across the city, in making Glasgow one of the UK's most cycling-friendly cities."

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