A POPULAR bike hire scheme is due to expand - despite uptake across the rest of the city being "lighter" than anticipated.

As previously reported the dockless YoBikes arrived in Southampton just months ago with 300 bikes now available to hire -and more being distributed in Woolston and Bitterne by the end of this week.

Now figures released by the company show that 15,000 rides are made every day with 40 new daily registrations.

But managers at the tech firm say various factors have resulted in less usage than they expected - with the city's cycling infrastructure worse than in other cities.

Operations director for Southampton Dave Munday said the city is behind Bristol - where the uptake of YoBikes has been higher. He said: "They are twice the size in terms of population but they have four times as many bike racks.

"Whether it's the infrastructure that drives the culture or people who drive the infrastructure is hard to say but they adapted to the scheme quickly and we have got work to do".

But he added that YoBikes is working with the city council to identify "geofenced" areas - areas where bikes can be left safely without being locked to a rack -with one on the corner of Bassett Avenue and Glen Eyre Road the first to be signed off.

And business development manager Jade Ebenezer said the company is working with private enterprises to get more signed up to the scheme, including those whose workers could use the scheme to commute.

He added that the uptake has been less than in Bristol because the scheme was launched in the autumn in Southampton rather than earlier in the year.

He said: "The numbers aren't fireworks but good enough to show that Southampton is a great city to be in".

He said the number of bikes on the streets depends on usage and can be changed according to need.

To expand the scheme parking locations are released first with more bikes made available in the most popular locations according to the GPS tracking.

A spokesperson for Southampton City Council said: "The levels of use reflect the scale of the pilot. The intention is to grow the scheme gradually proportionate to demand. We will continue to monitor the scheme and its progress.

"We are developing a good working relationship with YoBike and are encouraged by the week-on-week rate of growth. The scheme helps to support the city’s transport policy objectives and provides a sustainable way for residents and visitors to get around the city."