THE first large-scale electric bike scheme in Scotland has been launched in Stirling.

More than 50 e-bikes will be avaible to rent by members of the public with the project funded by £270,000 from Transport Scotland to stay on track.

Electric bikes are fitted with an electric motor which assists the rider when pedalling the bike, making it easier for those who lack pedal power to take to the road.

The launch comes on the back of the success of the city's bike rental scheme nextbike, which turned three on Friday.

Since nextbike was introduced to the city by Forth Environment Link three years ago, the number of journeys made by rental bike in Stirling has tripled.

Users of the bike share scheme have clocked up nearly 24,000 journeys in the past year, compared to around 7,000 in the first year of the initiative.

The latest investment from Transport Scotland will also be used to install 5 smart screens across Forth Valley offering active travel planning advice, with everything from information on cycling and walking routes to tips on bike maintenance.

Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, said: “We’ve directly invested over £1m into the Stirling Cycle Hub and its nextbike initiative since 2013, and today’s award will ensure the continued success of what has been achieved here in Stirling.

“There are so many benefits to our environment and to our health by switching to cycling and other forms of active travel. Through the Programme for Government, we have doubled the active travel budget from £40m to £80m, reflecting our commitment to build an Active Nation."

Stirling Cycle Hub Manager, Graham McQueen, said: “Since its launch in 2014, the nextbike scheme has been hugely popular. We’ve recorded over 37,000 journeys in total which for a city the size of Stirling is incredible.

"Stirling is certainly showing signs of embracing a cycling culture, we’re starting to see a change in mindset. We now have over 2,000 active users of the scheme, many of whom have swapped their everyday car or bus journeys for the bike – which is great for their health and the local environment.

£The success of nextbike, the continued support of Transport Scotland and the recent infrastructure funding boost from Sustrans, takes us one step closer to Stirling truly becoming a cycling city.”

Julian Scriven, managing director of nextbike UK, said he was proud of Stirling's success: "We are delighted that the people of Stirling have taken bike share to their hearts. Over the past three years we’ve seen a 300 per cent increase in the number of users.

"It's a proud moment for everyone involved in the success of the Stirling nextbike scheme, the project has made great strides in improving access to cycling across the city.”