A total of 740 bicycles are to be made available for public rental, as part of the expansion of a bike hire programme to regional cities.

Public bike schemes will be launched in Limerick, Cork and Galway in September.

It follows on the success of a similar initiative in Dublin.

Minister of State with Responsibility for Public Transport Alan Kelly was joined by representatives of the National Transport Authority and sponsors Coca-Cola to unveil a prototype bike in Galway this morning.

The bicycle has an automatic gear-changing facility and a carrying panel in front of the handlebars.

Users will pay a registration fee of €20 to subscribe to the service and pay charges if they rent a bike for more than 30 minutes at a time.