Mayor backs cycle scheme

Anger over dumped bikes and pricing

 The Mayor of the West Midlands has lauded a new cycle scheme which has been introduced across Sutton Coldfield and the wider West Midlands.

Andy Street praised the West Midlands Cycle Hire scheme, despite evidence that some of the bikes were not being returned to their docking station and dumped in the street, particularly in Birmingham city centre.

People have also complained about the pricing which amounts to £4 for a one hour hire period, which includes an unlocking fee.

Safety campaigners have warned of a new danger to pedestrians in Birmingham city centre because of the ‘abandoned’ bikes.

But users say that when trying to return the bikes, the docking bays are already full.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Our cycle hire scheme is providing incredibly popular in Sutton Coldfield, far exceeding our expectations at this stage.

“People who hire our bikes in the Royal Town are using them for nearly an hour on average, cycling more than 4.5km each time.

Mayor Andy Street

“These are impressive usage figures and we expect them to continue to grow as more docking stations are introduced. New docks have not long been installed at Good Hope hospital and Four Oaks Station, whilst we hope to get our planned one for Sutton Station in ASAP.”

On top of a £1 unlocking fee via an app, users are then billed at the rate of 5p per minute (£3 per hour).

So it is £4 for the first hour and then £3 per hour thereafter.

Sutton Park enthusiast Patrick James said the bikes were a good idea, but the fees were too high, especially as its a new venture.

He said: “You would have thought they could have started with a discounted price and if that proved popular, then perhaps look again at the pricing structure. But for a couple of hours riding around the park, or anywhere that hires them out for that matter, £7 is too much.”

The mayor defended the prices and said: “West Midlands Cycle Hire is a new scheme and we are confident that our pay as you go prices are competitive – especially with our offer of the first 30 minutes being free for new users.

“However as we continue to roll-out more bikes and docking stations across the region, we will of course be exploring the pricing structure and seeing if we can offer subscription packages to provide better value for regular users.”

In theory, any bicycle not ‘docked and locked’ will charge you £37 for the first 24 hours it is not put back into position.

The company website show four steps for hiring a bike:

How to ride

It’s easy to hop on a bike to get to work, pop to the shops, or even to discover new places to explore!

1. Unlock

Unlock using the Beryl cycle hire app

 2. Ride

Have fun and be safe!

 3. Dock

Find your nearest docking station to park up

4. Lock

Close the lock to end your ride

On the dumping of bikes, Mr Street added: “Hundreds of cycle hire customers use our docks without problem every day. The very small number of users who do leave bikes out of docking stations receive a fine. We’ve found that following a fine the instances of bad-parking are greatly reduced.”

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