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.
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:
· Birmingham 2022 visitors have local bus, rail and tram travel included with their event tickets
· 19 park and ride, or park and walk, venues offering 60,000 free spaces and shuttle bus links to venues
· Spectator shuttle bus services from Birmingham city centre to the Alexander Stadium and from the Hawthorns Transport Hub to Sandwell Aquatics Centre and from Coventry city centre to the Coventry Stadium & Arena
· Parking restrictions and road or lane closures around venues to keep roads clear for local residents
· The Regional Transport Coordination Centre (RTCC) running throughout to manage the network and keep the public updated
· Upgraded Perry Barr and University railway stations offering greater capacity for spectators attending Alexander Stadium and University of Birmingham venues – while leaving a lasting legacy for local rail commuters
· New Sprint bus priority measures on the A34 and A45 linking Alexander Stadium, Birmingham city centre and the NEC venues allowing buses to bypass traffic jams and improve reliability of service
· Secure cycle parking at every venue with more than 25,000 cycle parking spaces across 13 venues
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.”
Birmingham 2022 is the biggest multi-sport event to be held in England since the London 2012 Olympics and it is the largest event ever to be held in the West Midlands region. It will officially begin on 28 July with a spectacular Opening Ceremony at the newly transformed Alexander Stadium and the Games is expected to attract more than 4,500 athletes from 72 nations and territories who’ll take part in 19 different sports and eight Para sports.