Gearing up for Sutton pedal power

New bike hire scheme ready for trial run

Sutton Coldfield residents are getting on their bikes this month as a cycling initiative gets under way in the town. New bike stands have appeared at Sutton Park as part of a new cycle hire scheme in the town. The docking stations will include normal three-gear pedal bikes, with 10 per cent electric bikes available.

The Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, has welcomed the initiative saying ‘the bikes, made here in the West Midlands, will be supporting local jobs and businesses.’

The stands have appeared at the park’s Banners Gate and Boldmere Gate entrances as well as Sutton town centre and customers will hire the bikes via an app at a cost £1 to unlock a bike and 5p per minute after that. This means a 20 minute cycle will cost £2 and an hour £4.

Following a link up with the Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) there will be a limited trial in the town this month followed by a full public launch across the West Midlands from March.  Up to eight docking stations have been installed in key locations around the town centre including those at the park.

From March 8 the distinctive grey and green West Midlands Cycle Hire bikes will be available to the public and the scheme will be rolled out in Coventry, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Stourbridge, West Bromwich, Solihull and Walsall by the end of July.

They will be available to hire 24 hours a day, every day of the year. With docking stations at major bus, metro and train stations, visitor attractions and city or town centres.

The operator of London’s Santander Cycles has been appointed by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) to offer bikes in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton and Walsall from next Spring.

The pedal cycles will all have three gears to cope with the hilly parts of the region and fitted with high quality laser safety lights that project an image of a bicycle five metres in front of the bike. 

TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), has agreed a five-year contract to offer more people the opportunity to enjoy cycling and provide a convenient alternative to the car for shorter journeys.

Work is under way with partner councils to find sites for 170 fixed docking stations across the region. There will also be some virtual geo-fenced docking areas which can be moved to meet demand or for large scale events such as the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Mr Street, who is standing for re-election in May’s mayoral election, said: “Lockdown has shown there is a huge appetite for cycling among the people of the West Midlands as many take the opportunity to get out and about on two wheels.

“It is therefore great to see the docks and bikes finally on the streets of Sutton Coldfield with the closed trial of our Cycle Hire scheme now well underway. I know the people of Sutton will be itching to get involved now they can see the docks and bikes, and I look forward to seeing the first residents of the royal town trying the bikes out when the scheme launches to members of the public on March 8.

“As well as providing a great opportunity for more people to take up cycling – these bikes also made here in the West Midlands, supporting local jobs and businesses.”

The bikes are manufactured in Stratford-upon-Avon by Pashley Cycles who also work with Serco to provide the bikes for London and Edinburgh. Supporting technology will be provided by British micromobility operator Beryl who also work with Serco in London.

TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), has agreed a five-year contract to offer more people the opportunity to enjoy cycling and provide a convenient alternative to the car for shorter journeys.

Cllr Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment with Birmingham City Council, said: “The West Midlands Cycle Hire will offer a more affordable alternative to buying a bike and give more people the opportunity to try cycling and contribute to improving our air quality and easing traffic congestion.”

The scheme is expected to create up to 25 new local jobs supporting the operation and maintenance of the bikes.

A full technology platform for the service, including the rider app and GPS connectivity on the bike which will integrate with the Swift travel card system, will enable customers to use their Swift accounts to hire bikes in the West Midlands, a first for a major UK bike share scheme.

Cllr Simon Ward, leader of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council, said: “We are delighted to be at the forefront of this scheme in partnership with TfWM, the city council and Serco to bring cycle hire to Sutton Coldfield. 

“It is great news for our Royal Town to be one of the first places in the region to launch this cycle hire scheme and it enables the Town Council to deliver on its priorities of improving cycling infrastructure, promoting active travel and healthy lifestyles.”

For more information and to register for updates on West Midlands Cycle Hire visit: https://www.wmcyclehire.co.uk/

Coun Waseem Zaffar, Coun Simon Ward, Andy Street, and Doreen Smith of Wyndley Leisure Centre at the launch of the initiative at Sutton Park

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