West Midlands Cycle Hire (WMCH) is offering everyone in the region two free half-hour rides per day during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The free cycle hire offer, announced today, is just one of many measures such as free spectator shuttle buses and extra public transport services being put in place to ensure visitors and athletes get to venues on time and the region keeps moving during this summer’s festival of sport.
Birmingham 2022 is expected to see more than a million visitors come to the region over 12 days, and spectators who have purchased tickets have access to bus, train and tram travel within the West Midlands included for every day of the Games that they are attending.
Adam Tranter, West Midlands Cycling and Walking Commissioner, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, Cllr Liz Clements, Birmingham City Council cabinet member for transport and Graham Jones, Transport for West Midlands Commonwealth Games technical director with the cycle hire bikes
The aim is to make it as easy as possible for people to leave their car at home and use public transport or active travel, cycling and walking, to get to venues. This will help manage traffic congestion and keep the roads clearer for regular commuters, deliveries and emergency services.
Under the new cycle hire offer, available across the West Midlands from 27th July to 8th August, anyone over 16 who signs up for WMCH via the Beryl app will be able to ride a bike or eBike for 30 minutes twice a day free of charge – whether or not they are attending a Birmingham 2022 venue. WMCH has 1,500 bikes for hire across the region, including 150 eBikes and more than 200 docking stations.
Pop-up and virtual cycle hire docking stations are also being set up near five key venues across the West Midlands; Alexander Stadium (athletics, Para athletics and Opening and Closing Ceremonies), Smithfield (3x3 basketball, 3x3 wheelchair basketball and beach volleyball), Sandwell Aquatics Centre (swimming, Para swimming and diving), Arena Birmingham (gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics) and Coventry Arena and Stadium (judo, wrestling and rugby sevens).
The free offer is designed to encourage more people to give cycling a go and consider whether they can swap their shorter car journeys for cycling or combine it with their public transport journeys.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The eyes of the world will be on us this summer when we play host to what is undoubtedly the biggest and highest profile event ever to grace our region. It is therefore imperative that we have the transport provision to match the scale of the Games, enabling our visitors to enjoy eleven days of thrilling sporting spectacle and make the most of their leisure time in the West Midlands.
“That’s why I’m so pleased that not only will spectators have the cost of public transport included as part of their tickets, but also every resident will have the chance to use our cycle-hire scheme free of charge. Cycling is a fantastic way to see our glorious region, whilst also improving mental and physical health and helping us tackle the climate emergency.”
The Birmingham 2022 transport plan includes:
The wide-ranging plans have been developed by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), in partnership with Birmingham 2022, local councils, West Midlands Police and transport operators.
Cllr Liz Clements, cabinet member for transport at Birmingham City Council, said: “The Games are not just about 11 fantastic days of sport, but about the legacy they leave. Free use of the hire bikes will help everyone get around the city and region during the Games and builds on what the city council is already doing to encourage active travel.
“This fantastic offer keeps up the momentum of Birmingham’s Cycle Revolution, through which we have been investing in cycle infrastructure across the city, including segregated cycle lanes, canal towpaths and green routes as well as local links, and I hope it’ll persuade people to make a permanent switch to cycling.”