A new bike share scheme is being launched in the West Midlands, targeting business users, as well as casual users.
Nextbike UK will supply 5,000 bicycles located at 500 stations which will be available for companies to use on a variety of pricing packages. Phase one of the programme, which launched on February 1, saw the scheme’s first 25 bikes available for self-service hire in Wolverhampton, along with five docking stations around the city.
Krysia Solheim, Nextbike UK managing director, said initial interest in involvement from organisations in the region had been encouraging.
“The best bike share schemes have deep levels of engagement from organisations of all shapes and sizes. That’s what we need in the West Midlands, from the outset,” she said.
“Initial conversations have shown that organisations, both large and small, are keen to get involved in various ways, including branding partnerships, community partnerships, equipment partnerships, corporate memberships for employers and campus memberships for universities and colleges.”
The German-based company, which has operations in 25 countries, including the USA, has bikes located in south Wales, Stirling, Glasgow, Belfast, London and Surrey. Its first UK scheme launched in Bath in 2014.
Casual users are charged £1 per 30 minutes, while monthly packages start at £5 and annual membership at £60. The monthly and annual deals give free access to bikes for the first 30 minutes with each additional 30 minutes charged at 50p up to a daily maximum of £5.
Bike availability can be viewed live via an app or on the Nextbike website showing location and the number available. Users simply enter the bike number or scan the QR code to receive a four-digit unlock code to access the bike.
The scheme will be the UK’s first bike share to be integrated with a region-wide smart ticketing system, while the Wolverhampton bikes will be available for company advertising.
Nextbike is currently surveying locations across the West Midlands in preparation for the next phase of the project, which will see hundreds of bikes on the streets by the end of the year.
Solheim added: “We’ve had lots of interest in our equipment partnership option, which includes having stations located outside offices or places of work. Employers are serious about providing transport options for their workforce and helping keep them healthy, and we are happy to co-locate stations to enable that.
“Our ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life in our regions by transforming the way people move throughout them. Our transportation strategies need to align more closely with our health, environmental, social, air quality and economic goals - and we cannot achieve that alone. It is going to take all of us, working together, to reshape our regions.”
The bike share scheme is one part of the larger strategy to increase cycling and active transit usage across the West Midlands.
Andy Street, West Midlands mayor, said: “Launching the pilot Nextbikes in Wolverhampton was a brilliant start, and we look forward to rolling out the scheme across the region.
“I’d encourage businesses to get involved in sponsoring the scheme or partnering with Nextbike, to get their brand out there to people across the West Midlands and to support an important West Midlands project.
“The West Midlands bike share scheme is just one part of our plans to offer people healthy, sustainable and less polluting ways to get around our towns and cities which is why we are investing in cycle routes, buses, rail and the Metro.”