Dutch-style cycling hubs are set to be created in Birmingham city centre to encourage more people to ride bikes to work.
The city is to undergo a huge drive to tempt people out of their cars and on to two wheels over the next five years.
Council chiefs have published a new cycling strategy which sets out radical plans that would make Birmingham one of the most bike-friendly cities in the UK.
The news has been cautiously welcomed by cycling groups which have warned that the ambitious blueprint needs to be backed with cash.
Officers at the council house are exploring city centre locations for cycle hubs which would offer secured storage, changing facilities, bike hire and repair services.
Plans for a scheme mirroring London’s hugely successful cycle hire scheme could also be resurrected.
It was initially dismissed as being too expensive but the potential to attract sponsorship like the deal with Barclays in the capital is being explored.
Work has already begun to set up a pilot bike hire scheme for students during term time at the University of Birmingham from as early as next year.
The new strategy also sets out plans to create more cycle lanes and connect roads more effectively to the canal network. There are plans to train 5,000 children and 1,000 teenagers to a level at which they are safe to cycle on the roads by the end of 2012.
The city council is now hoping to secure funding of £1 million over the next four years to turn the vision in to reality.
Cycling officer Mike Cooper said: “There is a real will in Birmingham to make these things happen and help us to become one of the most cycle friendly cities in the country.
“We are looking for a location for the cycling hub and that could be somewhere like the Colmore Row area, Brindley Place or even New Street station.
“The Department for Transport have met with us to talk about a cycle hire scheme but it really will depend on funding and sponsorship.
“The London scheme is fantastic but it loses money and that’s something we can’t afford to happen.
“We know that we will always face a challenge to get people cycling because of the road network but we can address that with training and by investing in infrastructure.”
The 32-page strategy says that cycling is crucial to the city and its wellbeing and that it is slowly beginning to gain momentum.
As well as delivering health benefits to people who commute by bike and ride for pleasure, the paper says that it can help to cut traffic by delivering a cheaper alternative to the car.
It cites the 100 miles of canal towpath as being key to encouraging cycling and makes a pledge to link the waterways more effectively to roads.
The council aims to target youngsters who want to cycle to school but feel unsafe on the roads.
Research findings show that two thirds of pupils wanted to cycle but fewer than one per cent did
It will offer Bikeability training to a total of 6,000 people by the end of next year. The strategy says that more work needs to be done to capitalise on major cycling events in the city including the 2012 World BMX Championships at the NIA and plans for the USA 2012 Olympics team to train at the new BMX track at Perry Park.
The track has cost £600,000 and is set to be once of the best in the world.
Secure cycle hubs like those proposed in the report are commonplace in Dutch cities where as many as 40 per cent of all journeys are made by bike.
The council said city centre locations were being explored and could offer a franchise to operate bike hire and repairs. A similar facility opened last year at Leeds train station and has so far been well received.
John Bennett, chairman of Birmingham-based pressure group Push Bikes, said he was encouraged by the council’s plans but said it was crucial that they were properly funded.
“The cycle hub scheme is very interesting and something similar is already operating in Leeds,” he said.
“It is the sort of thing that would encourage people to cycle more.
“Our aim is to encourage cycling by removing barriers and clearly there are elements of this strategy that does that.
“What the council needs to do now is make sure that this is backed by money because only through investment will they really make strides forward.”