"Boris bikes" could be coming to Birmingham in a bid to help the city shake its reputation as one of the UK’s least cycling friendly places.
Under the plans a ‘bike hub’ would be created in the city centre, offering travellers the chance to hire two-wheeled transport for short journeys.
Council bosses see cycling as means of cutting the impact of ‘transport poverty’ caused by families and low paid workers being priced out of cars, buses and trains.
The initiative is one of dozens being considered as part of a concerted bid to encourage more cycling in the city, to improve health and cut traffic congestion.
A council scrutiny inquiry into the issue is also likely to recommend that all local authority departments consider the impact of any policy on cycling, in the same way they might consider impacts on equality or disability.
A council transport committee inquiry heard that Birmingham and the transport authorities have woefully undervalued cycling and needs to do much more.
They were told by lobby group Push Bikes that just 109 regular cyclists can deliver up to £1 million in congestion, health and pollution benefits. But despite small successes Birmingham lacks consistent facilities and an overall strategy for cycling.
Thanks to lottery and other funding, there are dedicated cycle routes for North Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield, much of the rest of the city is poorly served.
It was also claimed that in an era of high petrol and public transport prices, cycling is a cheap alternative for hard-up commuters and families – but many are put off by road safety fears and speeding traffic.
David Cox, chairman of cycling charity CTC, said: “Perceived danger from the volume and speed of motorised traffic is by far and away the major barrier to more uptake of cycling and to the wider use of cycles for shopping, commuting as well as leisure and exercise.