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Street Cycles: All you need to know about the bike-share scheme coming to the Black Country

By Charlotte Callear | Wolverhampton | Transport | Published:

They are the West Midlands version of Boris Bikes – and thousands of the cycles will soon be on the streets of the Black Country.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street tries out one of the bikes with nextbike Chief Executive Julian Scripal and Wolverhampton council leader Roger Lawrence

Wolverhampton has been chosen as one of the first three cities to have the rental bikes.

They will hit the streets of the city in September, as well as Birmingham and Coventry.

They will roll out to Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Solihull in 2019.

Wolverhampton is also set to be one of the main bike hubs, bringing at least 50 jobs to the area such as area managers, van drivers and mechanics.

The landmark initiative aims to get more people off the roads and on bikes.

It will be similar to London’s so-called’ ‘Boris Bikes’, named after Boris Johnson.

The scheme will bring 5,000 bikes to the West Midlands – 2,000 in the first roll-out and 3,000 in 2019.

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Nextbike has been picked by Transport for West Midlands, part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), to run bike-share, the UK’s largest docked bike-share scheme outside London.

Annual membership to the scheme will cost £30 per year, meaning riders can access the bikes for as little as 8p per day.

Swift card members will be able to access the bikes as part of their regular subscription.

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The bikes will also be free for the first 30 minutes to people who sign up to Whim - the new smart travel service that is launching in the Midlands next month.

Docking stations will be located around key sites in the towns and cities involved, with bikes available 24 hours a day.

The new bikes will be introduced in Wolverhampton in September

And the cycles have enhanced security features, including integrated front locks and GPS tracking, to stop them being stolen.

The company is also looking to introduce a scheme to give up to 5,000 free memberships a year to help people who are suffering from financial deprivation.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Councillor Roger Lawrence, leader of Wolverhampton council and lead member for transport for the WMCA, were joined by managing director of nextbike, Julian Scriven, at the launch of the scheme in Birmingham yesterday.

They hope it will encourage more people to use public transport rather than drive in order to improve air quality and personal health.

Councillor Lawrence said: “I think if you look at any city in Europe they have these bike schemes.

“It comes at little or no cost to us because it is a commercially managed operation. There are health benefits to it, plus it will improve air quality which is a national issue.

“It really is a win win for us. The only question is why has it taken so long?

“I think it will be really interesting. This will change transport in the area massively over the next few years,” he said.

Mr Street said: “We are very optimistic about this. It has been introduced in lots of cities across the world and it is about time it has come to the West Midlands. I expect to use the bikes myself.

“There are big benefits to it. First of all it will encourage cars to get off the roads and it is better for health.

“This scheme is mostly for short journeys but we are going to look at introducing cycle lanes for longer journeys.”

Mr Scriven said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be bringing nextbikes to the people of the West Midlands. The interconnectivity it will offer is going to be brilliant, it will really help to make journeys across the Midlands seamless.

“We will be creating more than 50 new jobs across the area and we will be partnering with the Walsall-based Steps to Work charity to help fill the roles.

“They work with long-term unemployed and young people currently not in education or employment amongst others.”

Charlotte Callear

By Charlotte Callear
@CCallear_Star

Reporter based at the Express & Star's Wolverhampton head office

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