Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and nextbike are calling for volunteers to help test the new bike share scheme being piloted in Wolverhampton.
Phase one of the programme will see the scheme’s first 25 bikes available for self-service hire from the New Year, along with five docking stations around the city.
The scheme was procured by TfWM - part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) - in partnership with City of Wolverhampton Council, Birmingham City Council, Coventry City Council, Dudley MBC, Sandwell MBC, Walsall MBC and Solihull MBC.
Nextbike MD Julian Scriven, Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council Roger Lawrence
It will be delivered and managed by global bike share leader nextbike, which operates more than 200 schemes worldwide.
Volunteers are now being recruited to put the technology through its paces ahead of an official launch next spring.
The landmark scheme will eventually offer 5,000 bikes and docking stations across the region, along with three planned service and maintenance hubs.
It is expected to create 50 new jobs, including area managers, van drivers and mechanics.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “The bike share scheme illustrates so many of our key priorities and campaigns in the combined authority.
“Cycling is a key element in an integrated, active transport system, with a positive impact across air quality, boosting both mental and physical wellbeing and supporting our ambitions to make our town and city centres more inviting, accessible and social.
“The volunteer testing in Wolverhampton will be a great help – collaboration, as ever, is crucial and I know our council partners are as keen as we are to progress this.”
Cllr Roger Lawrence, leader of Wolverhampton City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for transport, said: “It’s excellent news that we are now testing the bikes and gearing up for the launch.
“Wolverhampton has a rich history in pioneering cycling and I am delighted we are a testbed for this.”
A number of TfWM transport initiatives are already supporting healthy and active communities such as the introduction of half price travel for all young people undertaking an apprenticeship and traineeship.
The West Midlands Cycling Charter, launched in 2013, sets out a target of five per cent cycle usage in the region and a commitment to improve cycling infrastructure and safety.
And TfWM’s Health and Transport Strategy sets out how transport schemes can have a greater impact on people’s health and wellbeing, particularly showing how streets and place design can encourage more social contact and physical activity during travel, with significant health benefits.
Julian Scriven, nextbike MD, said “This is the most sophisticated bike share scheme in Britain which will dovetail with seven different towns and cities across the region. It will also be the most comprehensive bike share integration we have delivered to date and we’re proud to be part of it.
“We’re now keen to recruit volunteers from the area who will play an important part in ensuring that our technology is fully tested and integrated with all of the necessary platforms before thousands of bikes are put onto the streets starting in spring next year.”
When launched, the scheme will be the UK’s first bike share scheme to be integrated with a region-wide smart ticketing system, and will be the largest bike share scheme outside of London.
Docking stations will be located around key sites in the towns and cities involved, with bikes available 24 hours a day.
Annual membership to the scheme will cost just £30 per year, meaning riders can access the bikes for as little as 8p per day.
Anyone interested in playing a part in the test phase should contact firstname.lastname@example.org