By Humphrey Carter

A new free bicycle service was launched in Palma yesterday as part of the Balearic government's attempt to encourage people to use more eco-friendly forms of transport over short distances.

100 bicycles are now available at the public transport station in the Plaza de España for use between 7am and 8pm by anyone holding public transport travel cards.

A pilot scheme has been running for various months on the Balearic University campus and, because of its success, it is now being widened across the island. The Balearic Transport Minister, Gabriel Vicens, explained yesterday that Palma is following the example being set by a number of cities on mainland Spain where the bicycle initiatives are proving extremely popular and, during the course of this year, similar schemes are going to be launched in Inca and Manacor. The Balearic government and Palma City Council have been cooperating closely in setting up the free bicycle service and the government has invested 200'000 euros in the initiative.

The launch of the new service comes just days before Palma celebrates its second “bicycle party” this Sunday with a host of events to promote cycling and sport being held in the Plaza de España.