Pedal power is perfect way to get about

THEY are becoming a familiar sight across European cities, and now a bike hiring scheme in making its mark here in Glasgow.

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Kris Gunn saddles up  and gets on the road in George Square. Pictures: Mark Mainz
Kris Gunn saddles up and gets on the road in George Square. Pictures: Mark Mainz

Just days after the scheme launched in Glasgow, thousands of people tried them out from commuters to tourists.

So I thought it was time I took one out for a spin to see just how easy it was to get about town.

The £600,000 Nextbike scheme, follows on from projects in London and Bath, in the UK, and in cities across Europe including Budapest and Innsbruck.

Glasgow City Council launched the new Mass Automated Cycle Hire initiative and it already seems to be proving a massive success with the people of Glasgow.

I headed down to George Square, one of the main bike pick-up points,

With 400 bikes available for pick up from 31 different stations, I hoped there would be one available.

At first glance, they look a bit different from the norm, and I was willing to wave my street cred when I saw the pink livery.

Before you can set off, you must register for the NextBike operated system.

It's simple enough, you can do it through their website, on their app or by calling on the phone.

Registering over the phone did take some time as you have to enter your name, email, your address and your bank details.

Once you've signed up, you are given a code to unlock the security chain round the bike.

While the first code I was given failed to work, I was given another code for a different bike and was soon good to go.

What immediately impressed me was how cheap it is to hire a bike.

Short-term rental costs just £1 for each 30 minutes and you could get yourself around the city's landmarks in no time.

As I prepared to set off, I met cyclist David Paterson, from the city's West End, who was returning his bike.

The 39-year-old raved about the bikes and how well his cycling journeys have been.

He said: "I think they're awesome. I honestly think they're really good.

"They're in great condition and they're very similar to the ones in London. But it's a lot less pressured cycling around here.

"Down there , you have a lot more traffic, and bikes on the road and it is much more intimidating.

"In Glasgow, you're out on the road on your own really, and the experience is much more pleasant."

When travelling across the city, I would normally opt for public transport or jump in the car, so taking the bike would be a pleasant change.

At least I know I should be able to find a parking space okay.

Now, I'm no Sir Chris Hoy, but once on my way I found the bikes quick and nimble which makes them the perfect form of transport to get from one end of town to the other.

I was able to make my way from station to station with ease avoiding busy traffic and jams on the road.

There's also the added health benefits of using a bike which cannot be ignored. My route took me along to the Merchant City, back through town and up to Glasgow Caledonian University.

I was beginning to get the hang of it as my £1 hire began to run out and so I headed back to George Square.

Douglas Lawson, 61 from East Kilbride, was returning his bike at the same time. He said it was a great way to get about town.

He said: I think it's a great idea. It gives me a little bit of exercise and means I don't have to come into town with the car."

Regular cyclist Julie Watt, 49, from Renfrewshire, said she hoped the scheme is here to stay.

Julie, who regularly cycles around town, said: "I think it's a fantastic idea. I hope they keep it.

"I suggested that my work get involved with them to support it. The bikes are really handy, I commute quite a bit and I can come out from Queen Street and get to the bottom end of the city really quickly.

"Its convenience more than anything."

There was a space available on my return. A quick call to Nextbike for another code, keyed into the machine, and my trip was over.

It might have been my first time, but I am all signed up and won't think twice about hopping on one again.

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