Free Birmingham bike project under way

image captionBikes were lined up in Victoria Square in Birmingham

The first of 5,000 free bikes for people in Birmingham are being distributed under a £24m scheme.

Residents in the city's areas of highest deprivation, who have completed courses in bike riding and maintenance, will be given 3,000 of them.

Six-month loans are available for 1,000 bikes and the rest can be borrowed daily.

Cycling in Birmingham accounts for less than 2% of all journeys and the council wants to increase that to 5% from 2023.

People receiving the 3,000 bikes will be able to keep them for good.

But bikes would be GPS tracked and anyone who gets one and does not use it enough could be asked to give it back, the city council said.

The Big Birmingham Bikes scheme will be funded until 2018 and a spokesman said nearly all 3,000 of the free bikes had been applied for.

image captionThe first bikes have been handed out

It is part of the wider Birmingham Cycle Revolution initiative, which includes improving infrastructure. The Department for Transport provided about £17m funding, with some £7m coming from the council in the first year of this overall project.

But the council said there were currently no plans to give away more bikes in the future.

People will be able to get the free bikes from 22 cycle centres in the city.

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