New e-bike hire stations open in Wolverhampton

New e-bikes are charged up and ready to go at hire stations launched in the Black Country as part of a scheme to get more people cycling.

 Hugh Porter MBE joins Ian Brookfield, centre, and Andy Street to try out the e-bikes in St Peter’s Square
Hugh Porter MBE joins Ian Brookfield, centre, and Andy Street to try out the e-bikes in St Peter’s Square

The 150 e-bikes will join 1,350 pedal bikes as part of the cycle hire fleet across the region.

The e-bikes are easier to ride than standard bikes and provide riders who are less confident an entry into cycling.

It is all part of a £40 million push for “active travel routes” and projects, including the West Midlands Cycle Hire, and the commissioner will be looking to build on that success.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, Ian Brookfield, leader of Wolverhampton Council, and Commonwealth Games gold medal winner and former world cycling champion Hugh Porter MBE were on hand for the launch as they tested the bikes out in St Peter’s Square, Wolverhampton.

Councillor Brookfield said: “What a fantastic day in spite of the weather. Let’s just say, people of my age, we can use these, and it’s another welcome addition to the city.

“I’m really happy Wolverhampton is launching these today, This is another excellent way of getting around not just the city centre but the whole city.

“If I can ride these, most people can, if it’s good enough for Hugh Porter, a multiple world champion, it’s good enough for us.

“We want people to use them, there’s no excuse because these bikes just take all the effort away.”

“If myself and the mayor can get on them and have no issues then age and experience is no barrier.”

There will be 150 e-bikes for hire across the Black Country

Mr Street said: “We had Hugh Porter MBE, the great road race cyclist here to launch with us so it seemed very appropriate to do it here.

“They are very powerful, they give you incredible assistance, they feel safe and secure so perhaps for someone who is not that confident on a bike, it’s a great way to get into it.

“We hope steadily, more and more people will use the bike hire and people that perhaps haven’t felt confident with it yet would feel they could use them. Perhaps for a long journey and you need some assistance or you’re not as fit as you might like to be just yet, this is a great way of getting started.”

And, after having his first go on an e-bike, Mr Porter said: “Once you have the saddle height set and the stand up you’re ready and away you go. I didn’t know what to expect, but as soon as I pedalled the power was just there and away you go. It is a bit like having the wind in your back.

“I think it will open up cycling in the city for many people. I have lived in Wolverhampton all my life and never realised how hilly it is.”

The new e-bikes can be hired in the same way as the pedal bikes – by scanning the touch pad or entering the bike ID to release the bike. An app also shows users where their nearest bike or e-bike can be located. The bikes cost £1.50 to unlock and 10p per minute of riding, or users can hire them as part of a minute bundle and pay 5p per minute and the £1.50 unlock fee. This can be linked to a credit card or via the new Swift App.

The bikes are hired using the Beryl Cycle Hire app where locations are marked with the symbol of a lightning bolt.

They are based in Wolverhampton, Walsall, Stourbridge, Coventry, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield. There are now 170 fixed docking stations and 1,500 bikes for hire in the region – of which 150 are powered e-bikes.

Hugh Porter MBE will be at the ‘Round the Wrekin Cycle Sportive’ event on May 22 next year in support in aid of Compton Care.

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