A regionally co-ordinated cycling strategy with funding targeted at 26 priority routes was backed by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) on Friday (08/02).

Ambitious plans, including goals to raise cycling investment to at least £10 a head each year, were set out in a report endorsed by the WMCA board.

In considering the report, which also listed potential investment of up to £250m to improve cycling infrastructure, the board reaffirmed its commitment to see more people making the switch to pedal power.

The co-ordinated, region-wide approach to cycling, which is a first for the West Midlands, puts forward 26 priority corridors for investment, covering nearly 200km through Birmingham, the Black Country, Coventry and Solihull.

The report, drawn up by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), also sets out plans for:

  • The appointment of a Cycling and Walking Ambassador
  • A flagship cycling corridor and support for councils to deliver local schemes
  • The co-ordination of events into a family festival of cycling
  • New West Midlands Cycling and Walking brands
  • Working with communities to create great places to cycle and walk

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “Cycling can reduce traffic congestion, improve health and wellbeing and reduce pollution. It is good for the cyclist and good for the wider travelling public so we have set out ambitious targets to increase the number of journeys made by bike in the region.

“We have already made a significant start and have also now launched one of the country’s biggest bike share schemes with nextbike. Once fully rolled out that scheme will see thousands of bikes for hire on the streets of the West Midlands.

“This shows the scale of our ambitions for cycling but we also know that one of the biggest barriers to cycling is safety, so we are planning to focus investment on 26 key routes that link communities across the West Midlands and offer people a genuine alternative to their cars.”

The Cycling and Walking Minister Jesse Norman, who visited Birmingham last week, said: “Getting people cycling and walking is key to improving air quality, encouraging healthy exercise, and boosting our high streets and economic productivity.

“These new safe cycle routes, which the Department for Transport is supporting through the Transforming Cities Fund, will help to make cycling the natural choice for journeys across the region.

“We are also investing around £2 billion to support cycling across the country as part of our long term Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.”

The WMCA board has already allocated £6 million from the region’s Transforming Cities Fund and this will now be used to deliver one of the priority cycle routes set out in the report.

It is also forecast that a total of £104 million will be invested in West Midlands cycling infrastructure by a range of organisations over the next four years. This will often involve installation of facilities alongside other developments.

The full report can be downloaded by clicking here.