A NEW city bike hire scheme has proved a roaring success, with almost 1200 people signing up in less than a week.

Since it was launched six days ago, almost 1000 people have hired the distinctive bikes, which carry the bright pink People Make Glasgow logo.

The average length of hire has been 80 minutes and the longest journey so far has been to Loch Lomond and back.

The £600,000 Nextbike scheme, nicknamed Gordon's Gears - in tribute to city council leader Gordon Matheson, has resulted in 400 bikes being available for hire at 31 permanent locations across the city.

Additional temporary sites have been set up at six Commonwealth Games venues.

Mr Matheson said: "The people of Glasgow have already embraced the bike scheme.

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

"Already, Glasgow's is the biggest bike scheme in the UK outside of London and I am sure it will only continue to grow in popularity."

The only other city in the UK with a hire scheme is Bath, which has 100 bikes at 10 locations.

Council insiders say the Glasgow scheme could be extended if its present popularity continues.

Mr Matheson, who has himself signed up to the bike hire project, added: "This is yet further progress- in addition to the millions of pounds we are investing on cycle routes across the city - in making Glasgow one of the UK's most cycling friendly cities.

"The scheme also has a key role to play in driving forward Sustainable Glasgow.

"It will contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions, leading to better air quality and will give people easy access to a healthy method of travel.

People who want to hire one of the bikes have to register through the website www.nextbike.co.uk/en/glasgow by their smartphone, landline or computer.

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

Annual subscribers are provided with a radio frequency identification card which can be swiped over the cycle's onboard computer sensor to speed up the hire process. As many as four bikes can by hired on one card.

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

Hire costs for short-term casual users are £1 for the first 30 minutes with each additional half hour costing £1, capped at £10 for five to 24 hours.

Local businesses can sign up for a corporate membership to allow staff or customer to access to the bikes for free.

The service is aimed at organisations looking to improve their green credentials, promote active transport and reduce use of cars for short, frequent journeys.

Each bike is protected by a robust chain lock with a four digit code, a saddle with a theft protection device and a satellite tracking system fitted to assist in locating any stolen bikes.

So far, no bikes have been stolen or damaged.

Glasgow Bike Station, the charity promoting mental and physical health through cycling, won the contract to carry out all bike maintenance.

Cycling has taken off in a big way in Glasgow with the recently opened Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome now the busiest centre of its kind in the world.

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk