ONE of the firms hoping to run London's eagerly awaited bike rental scheme is expanding elsewhere in the UK,
OyBike, which already hires out cycles in Hammersmith and Fulham within the capital, has just increased its presence in the nearby commuter town of Reading.
The company has set up a bike lock up at Reading train station where people can hire the cycles
Feroze Rub, managing director of OyBike, told the BBC: "This partnership is an example of what a properly integrated public transport system can do for everyone."
Andrew Saunders, from First Great Western train firm, said the scheme gave people the freedom to explore Reading if they were arriving by train.
He added: "Car parking is always difficult, so cyclists have a distinct advantage in getting around town - since they can park right outside the shop they want to go into, library, swimming pool, theatre or anywhere else really."
As with cycle hire schemes in European cities like Paris and Barcelona, the OyBike service requires users to register beforehand. Registration is £10 per year. After that the first half hour ride is free, and charges are approximately £2 an hour after that.
They can then unlock a bike from a stand by calling a local rate number and getting a release code texted to their mobile phone. A combination for the bike's integral lock is also sent, allowing users to lock up the bike if needed.
The first half hour ride is free and after that, hire costs £2 an hour for a maximum of eight hours. Once that period has expired the bike is available at no extra cost for the remainder of 24 hours.
The bikes are sturdy beasts, with shaft drives instead of chains, three gears, Dynamo lights, a small basket on the front and a carrier at the back.
The two favourites to win the London mayoral elections, Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone, both support the introduction of a cycle rental scheme in the UK capital.