Free public bike hire for Scotland's largest cities

Residents in Glasgow and Edinburgh can now enjoy free public bike hire thanks to our Smarter Choices, Smarter Places programme.

Pictured are Councillor Anna Richardson of Glasgow City Council (left) and Lorna Finlayson of CoMoUK

The cycle share initiative comes as more COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and aims to encourage more people to consider cycling for everyday journeys.

More than 1300 cycles located at nearly 200 bike stations will be available for free hire in the cities for the first 30 minutes of every journey.

It makes it the largest public bike hire scheme to have been funded by our Smarter Choices, Smarter Places programme which is supported by Transport Scotland.

Bikes can play an increasingly important role in Scotland’s green recovery by providing an alternative to private car journeys, helping manage demand on public transport, as well as benefiting health and the environment.

• In Glasgow, the first 30 minutes of standard cycle hire will be at no cost to the hirer for the next eight weeks, and this will be extended to 60 minutes for existing subscribers – with no limit on the number of times the offer can be used.
• In Edinburgh, the first 30 minutes of bike hire on pedal bikes will be free for the next 14 days. The usual per-minute charge is 10p. Access fees for e-bikes will also be free, although usage will incur the usual per-minute charge. Edinburgh also plans to release a new four-month discounted pass from 13 July to encourage long-term uptake of cycling.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:

I’m pleased we can offer free access to bikes in Glasgow and Edinburgh through our support of the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places programme. We’ve seen increased rates of cycling and increased use of our public hire bicycle schemes across the lockdown period and this offer will help maintain this shift in travel behaviour at a critical time in our COVID-19 response.
By offering free 30-minute trips, in conjunction with temporary infrastructure in Glasgow and Edinburgh, we can greatly incentivise more sustainable everyday journeys in Phases 2 and 3 of the Scottish Government route map.
For people in our two biggest cities, this initiative will benefit our health, our environment and will help to manage demand on our public transport network.

Ian Findlay CBE, our Chief Officer said:

Having Scotland’s two largest cities running an initiative like this at the same time is hugely significant and sends a very clear message about the importance of a green recovery.

It’s also the largest public bike hire scheme that our Smarter Choices, Smarter Places programme has ever supported so we hope as many people as possible will take advantage of this project and realise the many benefits of active travel.

The collaboration is being led by the charity CoMoUK which promotes the use of shared transport, and is running in partnership with Glasgow City Council, Transport for Edinburgh, and bike share operators nextbike in Glasgow and Serco in Edinburgh.

Lorna Finlayson, Scotland director of CoMoUK, said:
“Investment in cycling capacity and infrastructure is vitally important, however we want to make sure that everyone, from all walks of life, can benefit.
“As bike share is accessible, affordable and flexible it can play an increasingly important role in Scotland’s green recovery by providing an alternative to private car journeys and helping to ease pressure on public transport.”

Glasgow’s cycle hire scheme was launched in 2014, with nextbike currently making 800 bikes for hire across 79 city locations.

In Edinburgh, over 500 Just Eat bikes are available for hire, with 107 stations across the capital.

Both cities have created more cycle lane space in response to the coronavirus pandemic through Scottish Government funding, and bike share operators are undertaking enhanced cleaning regimes, regularly cleaning handlebars and keypads.
The free trips will be available to anyone, for any type of journey, and can be used for exercise, shopping and commuting to work. Bikes can be hired on a pay-as-you-go basis or by subscription, with registration via app or website.

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