West Midlands Cycle Hire’s (WMCH) free offer to encourage cycle hire during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has seen over double the amount of bike and ebikes being used during the first week of the scheme compared to an average week.
Designed to help manage traffic congestion during the Games and offer more people a chance to get to sporting venues through active travel, the offer has seen over 13,000 cycles hired during the first seven days, which is over 6,500 more than was hired the prior week.
Riders have also clocked up an average distance of 2.76 kilometres per journey.
Under the new cycle hire offer, available across the West Midlands until 8th August, anyone over 16 who signs up for WMCH via the Beryl app will be able to ride a bike or eBike for 30 minutes twice a day free of charge – whether or not they are attending a Birmingham 2022 venue. WMCH has 1,500 bikes for hire across the region, including 150 eBikes and more than 200 docking stations.
Other measures to keep the region moving and ensure both visitors and athletes get to venues on time include free spectator shuttle buses and extra public transport services. The wide-ranging plans have been developed by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), in partnership with Birmingham 2022, local councils, West Midlands Police and transport operators.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Our cycle hire scheme has been a phenomenal success so far and it brings me great pride to see so many people opting for active travel to visit sporting events and enjoy everything that the West Midlands has to offer this summer.
“With a total of over 13,000 cycling trips being made so far since the free offer started, it is clear to see that this initiative – along with free public transport for ticket holders - has been incredibly warmly received by the public. We’re keen to encourage cycling uptake in our region long past the summer, so if you want to give it a go then there is no better time to discover the benefits first-hand than right now as every resident and visitor to the region can use our cycle-hire scheme free of charge up until Monday 8th August.”
Adam Tranter, West Midlands cycling & walking commissioner, said: “The West Midlands Cycle Hire scheme has become a key part of our sustainable transport network and allows us to help tackle the climate emergency while also giving people a unique way to travel around the city.
“I’m so pleased to hear that we have successfully enabled so many people to opt for active travel to visit events in the region this summer. Along with new infrastructure as part of our future plans for the region, I hope it’ll persuade more to make a permanent switch to cycling in the near future.”
Councillor Liz Clements, cabinet member for transport at Birmingham City Council, added: “I’m so pleased to see that the uptake of the free cycle hire scheme has been a roaring success amongst the residents and visitors who are watching the Commonwealth Games or coming to Birmingham.
“Not only is it a fun activity to do by yourself, with friends or family, it’s an alternative way to travel, beat the traffic and enjoy the buzz of the city. If you haven’t had a chance to take up the scheme, I urge everyone to utilise this opportunity before it ends on Monday 8th August”
Pop-up and virtual cycle hire docking stations are also being set up near five key venues across the West Midlands; Alexander Stadium (athletics, Para athletics and Opening and Closing Ceremonies), Smithfield (3x3 basketball, 3x3 wheelchair basketball and beach volleyball), Sandwell Aquatics Centre (swimming, Para swimming and diving), Arena Birmingham (gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics) and Coventry Arena and Stadium (judo, wrestling and rugby sevens).
The bikes and docking stations are manufactured in the West Midlands.