COUNCIL bosses in the Black Country have been trumpeting the benefits of cycling following the release of latest statistics on activity levels.

New figures released by the Department for Transport on walking and cycling show the number of people getting on their bikes at least once a week has risen in both Dudley and Sandwell.

In 2017 just 4.9 per cent of people in both areas said they cycled at least once a week, but new figures for 2018 show a leap in activity in both boroughs.

Sandwell's figure has almost doubled to 8.7 per cent while in Dudley it has risen to 7.9 per cent - although both still fall below the national average figure of 11.5 per cent,

Leader of Sandwell Council's, councillor Yvonne Davies, has made it one of her priorities to get Sandwell moving to help people improve their health and wellbeing and she said: “We’ve done a lot to promote and support cycling in Sandwell and we want to do even more to get more residents on their bikes. We’re pleased that our cycling rate is improving, but it’s still not high enough.

“We’re working with Cycling UK to set up community cycling programmes and we’ve recently run a cycling taster event for more than 50 people which we hope will become a weekly session.

“Since November 2018, we have funded qualifications in leading rides and bicycle maintenance for 14 volunteers. And this autumn we’ll be doing bike security marking as part of our Safer 6 campaign.

“Across Sandwell we’re developing cycling and walking infrastructure plans to improve our roads for cyclists and we’re also seeking money from the Better Streets Fund to improve areas for walking and cycling."

The council also wants to get people cycling on canal towpaths and cllr Davies said: “I want to work with our partners to attract funding to improve our canals and make them even more attractive, especially cyclists.

“We want to significantly increase the number of people getting active in their communities – even if they lack mobility or they have a disability, we’re developing sessions and groups that will appeal to people of all ages and abilities.”

Meanwhile in Dudley - councillor Karen Shakespeare, the council's cabinet member for environmental, highways and street services, said: “Dudley Council is passionate about the benefits of active travel and while our borough topography can be challenging we are always looking at ways to make cycling safer and more accessible.

“Our borough boasts a number of popular and well-designed cycle routes, including two Sustrans paths that run through the borough. Working closely with Transport for West Midlands, we have secured £1.7m of investment, which has enabled us to develop 12.5km cycle friendly improvements and cycle paths in the Brierley Hill area.

“Our Bikeability programme, which promotes safe cycling, offers term time training sessions to primary and secondary schools for pupils and out of school sessions for all ages, from complete beginners to more experienced cyclists.

“The Metro line will create new links to areas that would otherwise be difficult for pedestrians and cyclists, with infrastructure set to include cycle parking, and we are working with partners to deliver a first class cycle hire programme throughout the West Midlands.”

Sandwell Council says it is working with the voluntary sector, leisure and health organisations on a new initiative to promote physical activity. Its forthcoming #MoveMoreSandwell campaign will encourage people to be more active and cllr Davies added: "We’re also very excited that British Cycling are getting involved and will be helping us to set up cycling opportunities to get people in Sandwell on their bikes."

West Midlands Railway has said it is working hard to encourage commuters to swap their cars for bicycles and a spokesman said: “Our station investment programme includes the creation of an extra 2,760 secure cycle spaces across our network.

“We are firmly committed to making rail travel sustainable and we are working with passengers and partners to design Station Travel Plans which will encourage increased use of green travel methods, including cycling.”

For information on cycling in Sandwell go to and in Dudley go to

Do you think enough is being done to encourage cycling in the Black Country?

Would you like to cycle more? Does traffic or the worry of cycle thefts put you off getting on your bike?