Oldbury and West Bromwich are the latest towns to be added to the growing West Midlands Cycle Hire (WMCH) network following the launch in Sandwell today.
More than 60 of the distinctive grey and green bikes are now available across ten docking stations at popular destinations around the area including Sandwell Hospital, Dartmouth Park, Sandwell College and Sandwell and Dudley Railway Station. This follows successful launches earlier this year across the West Midlands which have seen tens of thousands of riders clock up more than 150,000 km on the bikes.
Now the people of Sandwell will be able to try the bikes for fun or for their daily commute simply by downloading the West Midlands Cycle Hire app and following the instructions to find and unlock their nearest bike. First time riders can enjoy their first 30 minutes free of charge. Among those keen to give them a go this morning was Cllr Jackie Taylor, cabinet member for sustainable transport at Sandwell Council.
She said: “It’s incredibly exciting to launch the new cycle hire scheme in Sandwell. The scheme has been popular in other areas and I know Sandwell residents will welcome this new mode of transport to help them get around the borough.
“There will be cycling docks across the six towns in Sandwell and I encourage people to take this opportunity to reap the benefits of the cycle hire scheme. Cycling is also one way of staying fit and healthy and will also help lower carbon emissions by reducing the number of cars on our roads.
“But important as cycling and this scheme are, this is only one part of a truly sustainable transport system for Sandwell. That’s why I am committed to ensuring that people with physical disabilities and women who are survivors of female genital mutilation have access to cycling. I will be working closely with our partners at WMCA to ensure that everyone has access to the transport links we all need.”
The cycle hire scheme has been developed by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in partnership with local councils. The scheme is run by Serco – the operator of London’s famous Santander Cycles – using bikes, docks and locks manufactured in the West Midlands - part of the locking mechanism is made by West Bromwich engineering firm PHA Europe.
Investment in cycling facilities is a key part of the region’s plan to provide more alternatives to the car for shorter journeys around busy towns and cities with a view to reducing congestion, improving air quality and helping the region achieve its #WM2041 net zero-carbon target. Next month the region hosts the UK100 International Net Zero Local Leadership Conference meeting of city leaders to share best practice on climate change.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “With the addition of Sandwell today, we now have our cycle hire scheme up and running across all seven boroughs of the urban West Midlands.
“Our bikes have proven to be very popular across so far, with more than 150,000 kilometres already clocked up by riders across the region. I am delighted we’ve now launched in Sandwell where I am sure they will prove just as popular.
“Not only is cycling good for people’s health and wellbeing, but it also helps us reduce the number of cars on the road as we look to tackle air pollution and the climate change emergency. So, if you haven’t already then please do give our bikes a go – and remember your first 30-minute ride is free!”
Sam Jones, Serco’s micromobility director, said: “We are delighted to be working with TfWM to introduce the West Midlands Cycle Hire scheme for the residents and visitors to Sandwell.
“Serco is using its experience managing the successful cycle hire schemes in London and Edinburgh to bring the new cycle hire scheme to the West Midlands and we have successfully launched the scheme in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Solihull, Stourbridge and Walsall. The new cycle network is already becoming part of the transport infrastructure in the West Midlands and we look forward to working with our partners Pashley and Beryl as well as TfWM to ensure that the scheme goes from strength to strength.”
When fully rolled-out later this year there will be 170 fixed docks and 1,500 bikes for hire across the region, of which 150 will be powered e-bikes. The pedal cycles have three gears to cope with hills and are fitted with high quality laser safety lights.
As an introductory offer everyone who signs up will get their first 30 minute bike ride for free. The normal cost of unlocking a bike is £1 with a 5p per minute charge after that, which means a 20 minute cycle will cost £2 and an hour £4.