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  1. ITV Report

Bike hire scheme launches in Exeter

The scheme will be available to passengers who register in advance Photo: ITV News

When Boris Johnson launched his bike hire scheme in London he created an icon on a par with the city's world renowned taxis and buses.

Today a similar system was launched in Bristol and Exeter. First Great Western passengers, who must pre-register and pay, will be able to rent these folding Brompton bikes from docks at the station.

Mark Antwis of Brompton Dock Ltd says "It's a different concept from the normal cycle hire scheme where one would take a bike out and you can keep it with you for longer."

A free bike hire scheme that ran in Bristol four years ago was a failure - but First Great Western says times are changing.

Mike Holmes: "It wasn't very successful but I think Bristol as a city and a cycling city has moved on quite a pace since then and I think that was part of the reason for the failure - we weren't ready for it at the time."

Independent local cycle hire is already a successful tourist industry that stimulates the region's economy. But whether it will work for commuters remains to be seen.

Although Bristol won £22m in 2008 and was given Cycling City status, many still feel the roads are too risky and prefer the safety of their cars.

Today a conference at Bristol's council house heard how only 3% of journeys are made by bike in UK towns, compared with 40% in Holland, where there are more bikes than people.

Dutch traffic engineer Vim Van der Wijk believes if only 5% more people take up cycling in Bristol it would solve the city's congestion problems.

Clearly we have a long way to go before we become like Holland - but these pink folding bikes are certainly a step in the right direction.