A GLASGOW student is calling for an extension to a free scheme that has benefited thousands of people amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Nextbike, operators of the “People Make Glasgow” bicycles located at stations around the city, introduced a free rental scheme in June last year.

It meant that residents could rent the bikes for free for the first 30 minutes. However, the scheme has now ended.

Glasgow Times:

Luke McBlain, a university student living in Glasgow, is appealing for an extension to the scheme.

The 20-year-old said: “I started using the bikes around three months ago but I see a lot of people using them. They are such an easier way to get into town, and it keeps you fit.

“It’s just annoying that the free scheme has ended now. COP26 is coming, so we should be promoting these healthy lifestyles and choices.

“I understand they aren’t free to run but I just thought it was a great initiative and it benefited a lot of people.

“They save you money because the subway is more expensive as well as the trains and buses. And with Covid-19, you’re wanting to avoid public transport as much as possible.”

The recent scheme saw more than 260,000 rentals made during the nine months, and was delivered by Glasgow City Council using the Scottish Government’s Smarter Choices, Smarter Places funding stream to promote active travel.

Glasgow Times:

Luke, originally from Cumnock in Ayrshire, has started a petition to appeal to the council and the government to restart the scheme.

He added: “People use them to get to work and university, and just to get around.

“I work in a supermarket and some of my colleagues use the bikes to get home at night instead of walking. There is a safety aspect too, the bikes have got the lights on them, so it gives people an alternative type of transport.

“The council has been investing so much in cycle lanes so there are a lot of good spaces you can use. You can go along to Glasgow Green too.”

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “The cycle hire scheme has been hugely popular and we hope that level of interest in using the hire bikes will be sustained in future.

“The scheme is operated on behalf of the council by a commercial provider, nextbike, and they offer various incentives to encourage the use of what is a very competitively priced form of public transport.

Glasgow Times:

“We are in regular dialogue with nextbike about the scheme and we are looking at other options with them on how to continue building on the success of the service.”

To sign Luke’s petition, click here.