The Cardiff Smart Bike scheme will be launched tomorrow at a Walking and Cycling Conference which is taking place at the County Hall. The Paris-style hire scheme is the first of its kind to be launched in Wales.
Run by OYBike and sponsored by the city council and the Welsh Assembly Government, it will allow residents and visitors to register to use one of 75 specially branded bikes that will be located at 35 bike stands situated throughout the city centre, Cathays and Cardiff Bay.
Users can either pay an annual £18 registration fee or apply for weekly registration fee of £5. After that, the first 30 minutes of hire are free, and charged at small hourly rental after that, and bikes can be picked up and dropped off at any of the hire points.
Delme Bowen, the council's executive member for transport, said: "Cycling is at the heart of our sustainable travel scheme and we are committed to encouraging people to think about using bikes.
"With a series of major pedestrian improvements now underway we are working to ensure cyclists can be properly accommodated right across the city centre."
The scheme is designed to help encourage more people to take up cycling, and to help reduce traffic congestion and pollution in Cardiff, and is being launched tomorrow to coincide with European Mobility Week and World Car Free Day.
The launch is taking place alongside The Walking & Cycling Conference, a national event sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government, which will feature presentations that will focus on ways of encouraging more people to walk and cycle. The conference will also hear from Sustrans about the results of work undertaken to develop walking and cycling in the Sustainable Travel Towns in England.
The city became the first in Wales to be awarded Sustainable Travel City status earlier this year and the bike hire scheme is one of many projects that form part of Cardiff’s £28.5 million Sustainable Travel City scheme, which aims to reduce congestion and encourage a shift to more sustainable travel by foot, bike and public transport.
These will include improvements to bus travel around the city, a new park and ride site which is due to open in the Autumn, and the Pont y Werin pedestrian and cycle bridge, which will open in 2010.
Blackpool recently launched England’s first large-scale cycle hire scheme, in a move aimed at transforming the resort's reputation, and Dublin launched a cycle hire scheme called Dublinbikes, which saw 1,150 bike journeys made on the first day. The London Cycle Hire Scheme is set to launch in summer 2010, with 6,000 hire bicycles based in 400 cycle docking stations.