A group of Birmingham bike enthusiasts is offering to accompany new cyclists to work next week as part of a national initiative. Bike2Work, promoted annually during National Bike Week (14th-22nd June), aims to use exciting and creative methods to get commuters out of their cars and onto a bike.
This year Birmingham Friends of the Earth has risen to the challenge, offering local commuters the chance to have a "Bike Buddy" for the week. Commuters taking the plunge will be met from their front door by an experienced city cyclist and escorted to work, then met from work in the evening and escorted home again. It is hoped that after a week workers will realise how convenient, cheap and healthy it is to bike to work every day .
Jenny Thatcher, the scheme's organiser, highlighted the aims of the initiative:
"We are targeting people whose bikes are gathering dust in the shed because they are put off by busy roads. Hopefully our volunteers can show them the ropes, and once people try it they will be keen to continue – mainly because cycling is great fun!"
Cycling could be a major part of a safe, healthy and sustainable transport system in Birmingham. Nick Tulley, a member of Birmingham-based cycle campaign group Pushbikes and a volunteer Bike Buddy, cycles every day from Selly Oak to his job as Computer Manager in Winson Green. He said:
"What people don't realise is that every new cyclist is one less car – so the more people there are cycling on the roads then the safer the roads become. Meanwhile they are getting fit and saving money! In over 15 years of daily cycle commuting I have not had a serious accident, partly due to always wearing light coloured clothing – even in daylight."
Birmingham Friends of the Earth is also encouraging those participating in the scheme to donate any money they save on transport during the week to charity .
Jenny Thatcher continued:
"At the moment this scheme is a pilot, but if we get the support we're expecting then we're hoping to make it a more regular event."
Bike Buddies will be operating from Monday 16th to Friday 20th June inclusive. For more information on the scheme, and to book your own Buddy, please contact Jenny Thatcher at Birmingham Friends of the Earth on 0121 632 6909. For more information on Bike Week events near you, go to www.bikeweek.org.uk/
 Cycling is still the fastest and most economical way of getting to work for journeys of up to 5 miles in urban areas (see Bike2Work media briefing for more info).
 This year Bike2Work is supporting Cancer Research UK (reg. Charity no.1089464) – you can either get friends, family and colleagues to sponsor you or donate the money you save by cycling. For more information on how to donate, go to www.cancerresearch.org.uk/donate