A BIKE-sharing hire scheme is to be launched across the West Midlands.
West Midlands bikeshare could be up and running as early as next year, say the region’s leaders, with between 3,000 and 5,000 bikes available for hire in cities and towns.
The scheme, similar to ones in London and other European cities, was approved by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) today (Friday Oct 13).
The WMCA wants suppliers to bid for a five-year contract to run the scheme, with commercial sponsors being sought to contribute to the running costs.
The sponsorship deal could be worth between £1million to £3million-a-year depending on the size of the scheme, says the WMCA.
Coun Roger Lawrence, the WMCA’s lead member for transport, said: “Cycling has a hugely important role to play in tackling issues such as congestion and pollution.
“If you look across Europe you’ll find these schemes are in place in the vast majority of urban centres there, and it is high time that the town and cities of the West Midlands were doing something similar.”
Cllr Lawrence said no formal start-date was in place. But he hoped that it could begin to be rolled out as early as summer next year.
A feasibility study commissioned by the WMCA earlier this year concluded areas where the scheme would be most successful included Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton city centres, the town centres of the Black Country and Solihull, and the National Exhibition Centre.
The bikes, some of them battery-powered, would be stored in docking stations and the public would pay to use them.
The cost of hire has yet to be decided but the Santander bike scheme in London costs from £2 to access a bike, with first half-hou free. Longer journeys cost £2 for each extra 30 minutes.
The WMCA adds the bikes will contain smart technology for tracking purposes, a built-in coded locking system, and bespoke parts to deter efforts to sell them by thieves.
The WMCA adds: “Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street has pledged to massively increase investment in cycling in the West Midlands from 25p per head to £10 per head to boost health and tackle congestion.
“He wants to see upgrades to cycle routes, particularly the surfaces, lighting, signage and access ramps, more use of the canal network towpaths and off-road routes, and accelerate existing plans for cycle superhighways and increase cycle parking provision at railway stations.”