Birmingham is in good shape to become a haven for cycling commuters, according to the councillor leading the city's bike revolution.
Lisa Trickett, cabinet member for a green, smart and sustainable city at the council, said it was a step in the right direction and claimed major strides were being made to get more people cycling to work in the city.
The council is investing in new cycling routes across Birmingham which Coun Trickett believes will make pedal power a reality for thousands of commuters as part of the authority’s Mobility Action Plan (BMAP).
She said: “We are improving all the cycling routes within 20 minutes of the city centre. There are roads where it is difficult to cycle.
“In truth there are roads where it is difficult to drive – that is what BMAP is about. We have to get more cars off the road.
“If we think about how local some of the employment patterns are there are real possibilities.
“You could talk the kids to school, get on your bike and be in work in 20 minutes, which would probably be faster than you could drive.”
Under three per cent of people in Birmingham regularly travel by bike and the council has set a target to increase that to 10 per cent by 2030.
A total of 3,000 of the new Raleigh bikes will be given away to those keen to cycle but unable to afford it.
The remaining 2,000 will be used to hire out around the city, similar to Boris Bikes in London – but called “Big Birmingham Bikes”.
The move comes after £17 million of funding was secured from the Department for Transport last year.
In order to get one of the free bikes, people must have a city leisure card and take a cycling proficiency test.
Coun Trickett added: “We have got some bike hire schemes, like the Brompton bikes, and we are also going to be offering bikes in various hubs around the city.
“But this is about giving 3,000 bikes to Brummies who want to cycle but the cost of purchasing a bike is stopping them.”
The initiative is part of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution that has secured £17 million from the Government as part of a £24 million programme to create a new cycling network.
Last year improvements were made to canal towpaths with the help of the Canal and River Trust and a number of off-road routes have been created.
This year more work will be carried out to create cycle routes on roads.