Just one per cent of journeys to work in Birmingham take place by cycle, according to new figures.
And further data has revealed that the number of walking trips taken by people in the West Midlands has fallen by a quarter in the last decade.
Now a number of initiatives have been planned to encourage people to get on their bikes amid serious concerns about levels of fitness and rising obesity in the city.
Birmingham’s rate of commuting by cycle compared poorly with the likes of Copenhagen, where 45 per cent of journeys to work are by bike. Sustrans, a charity which helps people to walk, cycle or use public transport for every day journeys has been lending bikes to employers in Birmingham in a bid to encourage staff to switch.
On Sunday (September 13) a BikeFest event is expected to attract 15,000 people to Eastside City Parkwhere a closed-road one-mile family ride for all ages will be held
The event is part of Birmingham Cycle Revolution, a scheme backed with £30 million, of which much comes from the Department for Transport, which aims to transform routes around the city, including main roads and canal towpaths.
Sustrans is calling for many more quality routes through Birmingham , saying gridlock would be greatly reduced. Birmingham City Council is also giving away 5,000 bikes, with residents in deprived areas who complete courses in riding and maintenance receiving 3,000 of them.
Six-month loans are available for 1,000 bikes and the rest can be borrowed daily. GPS systems in the bikes monitor usage and the council says it will ask for bikes back which aren’t doing sufficient miles.
The council is hoping to raise the number of people using pedal power to commute to five per cent by 2023.
Yvonne Gilligan, Sustrans regional director in the West Midlands, said: “We are working with an increasing number of businesses who want to help more of their employees cycle to work. Once people get started they love the freedom and the health benefits. Birmingham is increasingly gridlocked and cycling is the quickest way to get around.
“You don’t have to go on main roads. National Cycle Route 5 is a fantastic path along the River Rea running south out of the city and if we had more quality routes like this it would undoubtedly encourage more people to get on their bikes to work.”
Meanwhile, Diabetes UK is urging people in the West Midlands to get out and about more after a survey showed people in the region made an average of 181 journeys every year by foot in 2013/14. The number has fallen significantly since 2003/04 when 241 journeys were made annually by foot.