Solihull residents and visitors to the borough are set to benefit from the West Midlands Cycle Hire scheme.
Members of the public will be able to hire the distinctive grey and green bikes using an app on their mobile phone. Although the exact locations are yet to be decided it is thought the scheme will include a number of docking stations in and around the town centre as well as at other locations along key routes.
West Midlands Cycle Hire is already up and running in Sutton Coldfield and Wolverhampton and it will continue to be rolled out across other parts of the West Midlands, including Solihull, in the coming months.
When the roll out is complete later this year, there will be 170 fixed docking stations and 1,500 bikes for hire across the region - including 150 powered e-bikes.
Leader of Solihull Council, Cllr Ian Courts, said:
I think the number of people who have been taking to the bike in recent months has been phenomenal.
“Alongside the obvious health benefits associated with cycling, we know it also has a major role to play in addressing future congestion issues and in helping us reduce carbon emissions across the borough. As a Council we want to support our residents to make more active journeys.
“I’m pleased we’re working with Transport for West Midlands to offer this cycle hire scheme for our residents in the near future.”
The arrival of this initiative feeds into Solihull’s recently adopted Cycling and Walking Strategy which aims to address barriers to active travel and embed cycling and walking initiatives into local policy.
Elements of the strategy are already being implemented with three free to use cycle repair stations being installed across the borough and a recent consultation on the installation of three new temporary cycle lanes as part of the West Midlands Active Travel Fund.
The cycle hire scheme is being led by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), to encourage more people to become active and healthy and offer a convenient and more environmentally-friendly alternative to the car for shorter journeys.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said:
“The scheme is all part of our wider plans to promote and improve cycling across the region, as we continue to invest millions in our 500-mile Starley Network of safe cycle routes, as well as help fund a range of community-led projects through the Better Streets Fund.
“Not only is cycling brilliant for people’s fitness and physical health, but it also helps reduce the number of cars on the road, helping us to tackle congestion, air pollution, and the climate emergency we are facing as a region.
“As we emerge from lockdown I’m sure our Cycle Hire Scheme will prove to be incredibly popular for cyclists both young and old, and I would urge people of all abilities to give the bikes a go.”
It costs £1 to unlock a bike and 5p per minute after that - this means a 20-minute cycle will cost £2 and an hour £4.
The bikes can be hired using the Beryl Cycle Hire app. Later this year, they will also be available via the new Swift App. This will be the first app for the West Midlands to offer ticket purchases, the Swift Collector, departure information, journey planning, car hire and more, all in one place.
Investment in cycling facilities is a key part of the region’s plan to encourage more alternatives to the car for shorter journeys around or busy towns and cities with a view to reducing congestion, improving air quality and helping the region achieve its #WM2041 net zero-carbon target. For more information people can visit www.wmcyclehire.co.uk/