The first bikes for the new West Midlands Cycle Hire scheme are on the street following the launch of a trial in Sutton Coldfield.
The limited trial will feature five docking stations and 25 bikes placed in and around the town centre for the next month to allow a group of selected volunteers to road test the bikes, docks, locks and mobile app technology.
The scheme has been launched by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) to encourage more people to become active and healthy, as well as to offer a convenient and more environmentally friendly alternative to the car for shorter journeys.
It will also help support 'WM2041 - A Programme for Implementing an Environmental Recovery', which aims to see the region become net zero carbon within the next 20 years.
From Monday 8 March, the distinctive grey and green West Midlands Cycle Hire bikes will be available to the public in Sutton Coldfield.
It will then be rolled out in Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull, Stourbridge, Walsall, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton by the end of July.
Customers will hire the bikes via an app and it will cost £1 to unlock a bike and 5p per minute after that, meaning a 20 minute cycle will cost £2, with an hour totalling £4.
When fully rolled out later this year, there will be 170 fixed docking stations and 1,500 bikes for hire, of which 150 will be powered e-bikes and there is an option to increase this as demand grows.
The scheme is run by the same operator of London’s public bicycle hire scheme, under a five-year contract from TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
A contribution towards the set up costs of £5 million has been provided from the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund allocation to TfWM.
Running costs are being covered by rental income and commercial sponsorship, while the Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council is contributing £61,000 towards the costs of the Sutton Coldfield scheme.
Commenting, Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street said: “Lockdown has shown there is a huge appetite for cycling among the people of the West Midlands, as many took the opportunity to get out and about on two wheels.
“It is great to see the docks and bikes finally on the streets of Sutton Coldfield and arriving across the wider West Midlands over the next few months.
“As well as providing a great opportunity for more people to take up cycling, these bikes are also made here in the West Midlands, supporting local jobs and businesses.”
WMCA’s Portfolio Lead for Transport and Leader of Birmingham City Council, Councillor Ian Ward added: “We're working hard to grow our network of segregated cycle routes, giving more people the confidence to get out and about.
“But we also know that affordability can be a barrier, so cycle hire offers a great alternative to buying a bike. Hopefully this will help encourage more people to take up cycling as a healthy, environmentally friendly, alternative means of transport.”