Free bike rides are on offer during the Commonwealth Games. Transport for West Midlands, under its West Midlands Cycle Hire scheme, is offering everyone in the region two free bike rides each day during the Birmingham 2022 games.

The offer is open to tourists coming to the area to watch the games, as well as locals, and allows everyone to have two 30-minute rides each day for free. The offer starts the day before the Games begin and runs from Wednesday, July 27 to Monday, August 8, when they end.

During the Games there will be pop-up and virtual cycle hire docking stations at five key locations close to venues. These will be at Alexander Stadium, hosting athletics, para-athletics and the opening and closing ceremonies, and Smithfield, which will have the 3×3 basketball, 3×3 wheelchair basketball and beach volleyball).

They are also at Sandwell Aquatics Centre, with the swimming, para-swimming and diving events, Arena Birmingham, the venue for gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics and Coventry Arena and Stadium, where judo, wrestling and rugby sevens will take place.

West Midlands Combined Authority said it had 1,500 bikes for hire across the region, 150 of them eBikes, and some 200 docking stations. The free offer is aimed at getting more people to try cycling and swap their car for shorter car journeys, or combine the bike with public transport.

To be eligible, those aged over 16 must download the Beryl app and will be able to hire either a bike or eBike, even if they are not going to a Birmingham 2022 venue. They will also need to give payment card details and if they go over the 30-minute period there will be a charge.

Birmingham 2022 is expected to see more than a million visitors come to the region over 12 the days of the Games, and spectators who have bought tickets have access to bus, train and tram travel within the West Midlands included for every day of the Games they are attending.

In addition to the bike hire and public transport offers there will be free spectator shuttle buses and extra public transport put in place to help people get to events.

Andy Street, 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.”

Coun Liz Clements, cabinet member for transport at Birmingham City Council, added: “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.”

Source: Nick Horner