Transport for West Midlands is encouraging people to scrap their cars in return for a pre-paid £3,000 cashcard, half of which they can spend on a bike (or, bicycles).
The trial scheme, run in partnership with Coventry City Council, is an evolution of an existing Mobility Credits programme, launched in 2021, which encouraged people to trade in their cars in return for cash to spend on public transport.
Now, the £3,000 can be split between a bike, or bicycles, up the value of £1,500 - with the rest going on transport services such as car clubs and taxis. The bikes can be purchased from selected suppliers: Halfords, or Cycle King.
"We'll scrap your old polluting car, you can get a quality bike you can keep, and still have some credits left over for other journeys by public transport or car club when you need to," West Midlands Cycling and Walking Commissioner Adam Tranter told Cycling Weekly.
Tranter is the first person to take on the newly created role, having been appointed by Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street.
"We need to make not using a car as attractive as possible, which is why we're pleased to now be able to allow people to use their credits to buy bikes," Tranter said.
So far, there have been 300 expressions of interest in the scheme, with 79 participants and 77 cars scrapped.
Tranter noted: "This is a pilot scheme and we are closely monitoring the behaviour changes of the individuals taking part," the intention being to keep the initial numbers small and "apply the learnings for future."
In his newly created role, Tranter will work with stakeholders to plan and develop the business cases for at least 10 major safe cycle routes.
Discussing his future goals, he added: "I want our region to achieve its active travel potential. We saw during lockdown that vast numbers of people will cycle given the right environment to do it in; our goal has to be giving these people a genuine alternative to using a car for short journeys.
"We can only do this by building high quality, direct and connected infrastructure"
Quieter roads, instigated by Covid lockdowns, as well as initiatives such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and pop-up cycle lanes have certainly proved effective over the course of 2021, particularly for women, with the Department for Transport (DfT) revealing a 56% boost in women’s cycling and a 12% rise in journeys made by men in 2020.
“Congestion really drags down our region’s health and prosperity; cities that have embraced active travel have been rewarded with better air quality, less carbon emissions and happier citizens. I want the West Midlands to have these rewards too," Tranter said.
The Mobility Credits scheme is a part of Transport for West Midlands (TfWM)'s 'Future Transport Zone', a £22 million programme that aims to utilise new technologies in a bid to support people moving around the area in a more sustainable way, reducing congestion and improving air quality.
The introduction of the scheme comes shortly after former Olympian, Chris Boardman, was appointed the first commissioner of Active Travel England. He holds the purse strings to the government's £2 billion investment in cycling and walking.
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