There are a number of commuter cycle routes to Birmingham University that avoid the busiest of roads for at least part of the way. Key routes include the Birmingham and Worcester canal and the Rea Valley Route. The Rea Valley Heritage Trail covers 14 miles from Wasley Hills to the centre of Birmingham and includes some excellent cycle routes. A brochure (PDF) for this walk is available.
Medical School students wanting to cycle to placements in local hospitals should read Robin Chisman's Cycling to Placements (PDF)
And if you fancy going a bit further - there are longer distance rides organised by both Pushbikes and by the Beacon Roads Cycling Club (BRCC). Some of these routes are described on the BRCC message board. If you have a GPS device, the BikeRouteToaster site has the facility to enable you to upload from your GPS device or draw your own cycle routes and download and search for other bike users' routes. Its very useful without a GPS or smartphone too.
Birmingham City Council has produced a map with walking and cycling routes. Normally the map is available free of charge from libraries and tourist information points but is most easily obtained online here. The detailed double-side map shows all the surfaced routes suitable for a leisurely saunter or brisk bike ride across the city, including bus lanes, canal paths, advisory routes, National Cycle Network routes and more.
The map also features details of a variety of relevant organisations from Pushbikes (the Birmingham Cycling Campaign group) to the Ramblers Association. It also lists 29 bike shops as well as linking into other such schemes such as the Dudley Borough cycling maps.
For staff and students at Birmingham University, the map is also available from the West Midlands police room in University Centre on a Wednesday between 12.00 amd 15.00 noon.
For those interested in routes in the Birmingham area that are on quiet roads, off road or on cycleways and towpaths, Pushbikes has published a series of Urban Explorer routes. There is parking near the start of these routes and the distance is around 6 to 15 miles. For families, it's easy to shorten the route as required. Ride leaflets can be downloaded from the Urban Explorer page.
Also worth looking at is the Birmingham Greenways site which boasts details of 100 miles of Family Friendly Cycling and Walking that are leisure routes for gentle cycling using mainly paths along canal towpaths and through public parks. For those wanting to go further afield they offer suggestions for 280 miles of cycle routes in the area.
CycleStreets is a UK-wide cycle journey planner system, which lets you plan routes from A to B by bike. It is designed by cyclists, for cyclists, and caters for the needs of both confident and less confident cyclists.
The journey planner will return three choices: a fastest route (generally suitable for more confident cyclists), a quietest route (generally avoiding busier roads), and a balanced route giving the best of both (generally suitable for an average cyclist). The journey planner will do its best to avoid hills where possible. The route listing includes photos that have been submitted to the Photomap to help illustrate the journey.
iOS and Android mobile versions of cyclestreets.net are also avilable.