Birmingham and the West Midlands are set to welcome 5,000 bicycles to their streets as part of a global roll out of the NextBike Initiative. The scheme, which will also create 50 jobs in the region, will be the largest bike share scheme in the UK outside London.
The scheme aims to deliver “sustainable and integrated travel solutions” and should help reduce congestion on the region’s roads. Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said: “Cycling has an important role to play in tackling issues such as congestion, air pollution and health.
“Our public transport is currently undergoing a revolution with new Metro extensions as well as plans to reopen rail routes and transform existing stations. The bike-share scheme will help support this, giving people options to use sustainable transport as part or all of their journey.”
Nextbike has been designed to be as user-friendly as possible, enabling its app users to unlock a bike using a code and return it to a secure dock. The bikes are fitted with GPS to enable journey tracking. Nextbike UK Ltd is part of Nextbike GmbH, “the world’s most extensive bike sharing provider with more than 150 schemes across 25 countries in 4 continents”. The company was founded in 2004 in Leipzig, Germany, and its HQ remains there today.
Membership to the scheme will cost £30 per year; around 8p per day. Swift card members will be able to access the bikes as part of their regular subscription.
“We firmly see the scheme belonging to the people of the West Midlands and we hope communities will take bikes to their hearts,” says Julian Scriven, MD of Nextbike UK, “we will be partnering with the Walsall-based charity Steps to Work to help fill the 50 job roles.”
The five-year deal will see 2,000 bikes introduced in September in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry and the remaining 3,000 in Walsall, Dudley, Sandwell and Solihull early next year. Available to hire 24-hours a day, the bikes will be docked in public places including train stations, public squares and other popular destinations.
Think it will work for the West Midlands? Statistics published quarterly assess the public response and take-up of Santander Cycles, London’s cycle share scheme often affectionately called ‘Boris Bikes’ (although the initial concept was announced by Boris’ predecessor Ken Livingstone) [source]. The Santander Cycles scheme has over 300,000 members, with 10.3 million journeys made by them in 2016. The record for cycle hires in a single day is 73,000, so if the 5000 Nextbikes prove popular there’s plenty of scope!
It looks like Nextbike’s launch in the West Midlands could also be good news for the health of the region. According to the British Medical Journal, cyclists, on average, take one fewer sickness days each year. Cycling to work also lowers your risk of an early death and adds to your longevity. David Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor of Risk at Cambridge University, has estimated that, on average, every hour we spend cycling adds an hour to our lives.
But what about the tech? From the Nextbike website we learned that the journey of Nextbike was from a basic bike rental system and evolved to a technology-driven bike sharing company. “Today our bikes, terminals and also our IT infrastructure are based on state-of-the-art technologies such as NFC, GPS, RFID, solar power and mobile payment.” They design and develop all of their processes and systems in-house, ensuring complete compatibility. For more information including full-spec images of each bike and docking station, visit the Nextbike published company profile.
Find out more on the Nextbike website and we’d love to hear your views on the scheme. Will you be using one? Will they help the city?
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