New bike rental points in Sutton Coldfield will be introduced
A bike rental program tested and introduced in Sutton Coldfield has been deemed a success with the addition of two new locations in the town. The West Midlands Cycle Hire Scheme, run by Transport for West Midlands, was piloted in the royal city in February last year and officially launched in the city to the public in March.
It soon spread to other parts of the region with bikes available in Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull, Stourbridge, Walsall, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton. And e-bikes were added to the mix in December last year, which cost more to rent than regular bikes.
And figures have now been released for Sutton Coldfield deeming the program a success with plans to add two new sites. This will come at the expense of the city’s most underutilized sites.
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From March 2021 to June 2022, there were some 9,393 rides, with 5,781 different users through June 16. It should be noted that weekly trips peaked at 608 in April last year when the program was launched, with more trips during the warmer months than in winter. .
While trips dipped to just 16 weekly trips in a week in December last year, they rose again this spring, though not reaching the highs of last year. The most popular docking station where bikes are picked up is Banners Gate, next to Sutton Park (31.7% of trips).
And the park seems to be the draw, with the two busiest docking stations being at the Wyndley Leisure Center (26.5%), near Wyndley Gate, and Stonehouse Road (20.1%), near Boldmere Gate. The Parade docking station performed 14% of the trips.
But Sutton’s other three docks were much less used, at Boddington Gardens (3.7%), near Beeches Walk, Four Oaks Station (2.5%) and Good Hope Hospital with just 1, 6% of all trips. And there are plans to move them, with docking stations at Rectory Park (the one at nearby Good Hope being moved) and also for New Hall Valley Country Park.
The planned changes were discussed at Royal Sutton Coldfield City Council’s Strategy and Resources Committee meeting on Tuesday June 21, with discussions ongoing with Birmingham City Council. The authority contributed £61,750 to the Sutton element of the program in the first year.
But due to its success, in particular people used the bikes for 42 minutes per trip (until June 16), traveling 4.48 km on average, as opposed to the planned 20 minutes, the city council will only contribute 44,481, £24 in 2022/ financial year 2023.
There are “super users” of the program, one using the bikes 73 times, another 61 times and a third 51 times. Almost always, bikes are returned to the docks more than 90% of the time, but in December last year, some 22% of bikes were not. The report was noted at the strategy meeting and discussions will now take place with City Council to move the three less used docks to other parks in Sutton.
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