Bristol has been named Britain's first "cycling city" as part of a 100 million pound scheme aimed at getting people to exercise by using bicycles.
The south-west city aims to double the number of cyclists over the next three years and will create a dedicated cycleway to link the suburbs to the city centre, provide free bikes to deprived communities and double the number of children receiving cycling training.
AdvertisementBristol will become the first British city to employ a major bicycle rental network -- similar to the successful Velib scheme which operates in Paris.
The government will initially allocate 11.4 million pounds to the scheme which will be matched by local investment.
Other areas which will receive funding after becoming Cyclist Demonstration Towns are York, Stoke, Blackpool, Cambridge, Chester, Colchester, Leighton, Shrewsbury, Southend, Southport and Woking.
Bristol City Council aims to have the scheme up and running by the end of the summer.
Initially there will be around 60 bikes available for hire at 19 locations, but this number will increase if the scheme proves successful.
The council also hopes that Bristol will be the first of many UK cities to implement the scheme.
"I'm sure many cities will be looking at the success of this system and then decide whether to introduce the scheme themselves ," council spokesman Matt Smith told AFP.
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly said: "Cycling is an alternative that could bring real health benefits to millions of adults and children, as well as helping them save money and beat congestion.
"I look forward to seeing these towns and cities put their plans into action and urge other communities across the country to follow their lead," she added.