The operator of London’s famous Santander Cycles has been appointed by Transport for West Midlands to offer bikes for hire in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton and Walsall from the spring.
Initially contractor Serco will provide 1,500 bikes for hire, of which 10 per cent will be ebikes. 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 meters in front of the bike.
Almost all parts are being made in the West Midlands. The bikes are manufactured in Stratford-upon-Avon by Pashley Cycles
The locking system is being produced by Coventry-based RDM Group and PHA Europe in West Bromwich. The plastic mouldings for the bikes and docks are made in Telford by LVS.
Following a link up with the Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council, the scheme will be launched with a limited trial in the town in February, followed by full public launch across the West Midlands from March. Up to eight docking stations are to be installed in key locations around the town centre including the edge of Sutton Park.
TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority, 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.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “During lockdown we have seen a huge increase in people cycling around our region.
“So it is the right time to be starting a cycle hire scheme and I am delighted that Serco’s cycle hire business, who have a great track record running cycle hire in London and Edinburgh are working with us here in the West Midlands.
“What’s more the scheme is truly made in the West Midlands with the bikes, locks and docks all produced here, further supporting local businesses and jobs.
“We are putting unprecedented investment in our cycling and walking infrastructure, including the Starley Network of safe cycle routes launched during the summer, because it is a great alternative to the car for shorter journeys, good for the environment, good for our health and great fun.”
Serco expects the scheme to create up to 25 new local jobs supporting the operation and maintenance of the bikes.
A rider app and GPS connectivity on the bike will integrate with the Swift travel card system, enabling customers to use their Swift accounts to hire bikes in the West Midlands, a first for a major UK bike share scheme.
Simon Bailey, managing director of Serco’s Leisure business, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the contract to operate the new West Midlands Cycle Hire scheme. We will be using our expertise from, providing and managing the successful cycle hire schemes in both London and Edinburgh, to support Transport for West Midland’s goal of increasing the number of cyclists in the region by five per cent by 2023."
The scheme is being set up with £5 million from Transport for West Midlands Transforming Cities Fund with ongoing costs covered by rental income and commercial sponsorship. The RSCTC is contributing £61,000 towards the running costs of the Sutton Coldfield scheme.