West Midlands Cycle Hire has opened to the public with the distinctive grey and green bikes available on the streets of Wolverhampton from today.

Up to 20 docking stations have been placed at key locations around the city and the bikes can be unlocked via the Beryl Cycle Hire smartphone app. 

It means that a bike can be, for example, collected outside the bus station and be used for essential journeys and daily exercise. As restrictions start to ease, they can also be used for trips to other attractions across the city.

Docks are also sited at major approaches to the city centre such as Penn Road, Stafford Street and Bilston Road – giving people the option of using a bike for the final part of a journey into the city centre.

To celebrate the launch West Midlands Cycle Hire are offering everyone who signs up their first 30 minute bike ride for free.

The scheme has been launched by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), to encourage more people to become active and healthy and offer a convenient and more environmentally friendly alternative to the car for shorter journeys. 

The launch follows a successful month long closed trial in Sutton Coldfield town centre – where the bikes are also available for general hire from 5 docking stations today. 

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “It’s great to see these West Midlands Cycle Hire bikes on the streets and ready to be used by the people of Wolverhampton.

“Cycling projects such as this can make a real difference to our cities, it’s great for our health, offers an alternative to cars and traffic congestion for those shorter journeys and help us improve our environment.

“As we emerge from lockdown I urge people travelling in and around Wolverhampton city centre to consider using one of our bikes, there’s a free offer to begin with and who knows they might get the cycling bug.

“This is just one part of the £40 million investment we as a region are making into cycling right across the West Midlands, from the 500 mile Starley Network of safe cycle routes to support for community led projects through the Better Streets Fund.”

City of Wolverhampton Council leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said: “We’re pleased to be part of the West Midlands Cycle Hire scheme. Cycling has a crucial role to play in tackling issues such as congestion and pollution, as well as offering a great way of getting exercise and enjoying the fresh air.

“We’re working hard to support cycling in Wolverhampton, with new routes being planned for the city, including a pathway along the central reservation of Ring Road St Peters and the creation of a continuous cycle route along the A4124 Wednesfield Road which will provide a key link between the city centre and New Cross Hospital.

“As a city we are committed to improving our infrastructure for more sustainable transport and these 2 schemes will complement other work we carried out over the summer to improve the city for cyclists and pedestrians.

“The addition of a new £525,000 cycle hub next to the railway station later this year also forms part of the city’s award winning £150 million Interchange development, better connecting cycling with bus, train and tram. 

“And we hope the announcement that Wolverhampton has been chosen as the start and finish of the cycling time trial for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will encourage people to enjoy this healthy, fun and environmentally friendly method of transport.” 

The pedal cycles have 3 gears to cope with hilly parts of the region and are fitted with high quality laser safety lights.

The 5 year contract with Serco, the operator of London’s successful Santander Cycle Hire scheme, offers the opportunity for more docks and bikes to be provided as demand increases. The bikes are made by Pashley’s in Stratford-upon-Avon and the docking stations and locks are also manufactured in the West Midlands.

Sam Jones, Serco’s micromobility director, said: “We are delighted to be working with Transport for West Midlands to introduce the very first bikes for members of the public on the new West Midlands Cycle Hire scheme. Serco is using its experience managing the successful cycle hire schemes in London and Edinburgh to bring the new cycle hire scheme to the West Midlands that is usable for both regular and non regular cyclists alike.” 

It costs £1 to unlock a bike and 5p per minute after that. This means a 20 minute cycle will cost £2 and an hour £4.

The bikes can be hired using the Beryl Cycle Hire app. Later this year, they will also be available via the new Swift App. This will be the first app for the West Midlands to offer ticket purchases, the Swift Collector, departure information, journey planning, car hire and more, all in one place.

Investment in cycling facilities is a key part of the region’s plan to encourage more alternatives to the car for shorter journeys around or busy towns and cities with a view to reducing congestion, improving air quality and helping the region achieve its #WM2041 net zero carbon target.

For more information visit West Midlands Cycle Hire.

Cycling during covid-19 is the perfect way to make essential trips and exercise whilst practising social distancing. To keep everyone safe we are asking our riders to remember to wash or sanitise their hands before and after they ride, avoid touching their faces whilst riding and to wear gloves if possible. Full guidance can be found on West Midlands Cycle Hire