Big Birmingham Bikes is a city council initiative that aims to increase the health and mobility of those who do not have the resources to buy their own bicycles.
The first Birmingham residents to receive a free Big Birmingham Bike bicycle, at the Small Heath Wellbeing Centre, today, included Ahmed from Perry Barr (pictured) who said: "I plan to use the bike to help me get fitter and cycle with my kids. Roadworks around where I live have meant car journeys are taking longer and I hate sitting in traffic so I am going to give cycling a try instead; for local journeys and commuting."
Imran from Sparkbrook added: "I heard about the Big Birmingham Bikes scheme via the Small Heath Wellbeing Centre where I am a regular user. I plan to use the bike to go out with my two children, especially in the warmer summer months ahead."
And, Azmi from Balsall Heath said: "I recently moved to Birmingham from Middlesbrough, for work. My family told me about the Big Birmingham Bikes scheme. I plan to use it to get me to work because it will be quicker than the bus, and also for leisure at the weekend. I am really pleased to receive this bike and think the scheme could really benefit lots of people across the city."
Between January and March 2022, 380 adult and 120 children’s bicycles will be donated, enabling more families to cycle together.
The Raleigh bicycles will be distributed through The Active Wellbeing Society to people who are already on their waiting list. They will also be received by people who are referred through the Bikes on Prescription scheme.
GPs and social prescribers will identify people who could benefit from cycling, in terms of mental and physical wellbeing, but who lack the resources to buy a bicycle for themselves.
The Active Wellbeing Society will also select suitable candidates from those who attend their ‘learn to cycle’ programmes.
Birmingham City Council’s Travel Demand Manager, Peter Edwards said: "Birmingham City Council is proud to be distributing another batch of Big Birmingham Bikes, building upon its previous success when more than 5,000 were donated; helping to increase Birmingham residents’ mobility and health in an environmentally friendly manner.
"Previously, demand exceeded supply so we hope to give these bikes to those who missed out on previous occasions. We hope that they will help people overcome barriers to cycling while encouraging sustainable travel for those who would otherwise be excluded."
The Active Wellbeing Society's Interim Head of Cycling, Sue Mellor said: "We are delighted to be working in partnership with Birmingham City Council to offer more bikes to those who would benefit the most, to improve their mental and physical well-being; offering more opportunities to cycle to those who are usually excluded, enabling the citizens of Birmingham to live more empowered active connected lives.
"Anyone who cannot cycle or wants to build their confidence, may attend a supported cycle training programme provided by The Active Wellbeing Society and become involved in the Transport for West Midlands cycle schemes."
Birmingham City Council is receiving £250,000 funding from the Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund, through Transport for West Midlands, to fund this scheme.