An electric bike share scheme piloted and led by the University of Worcester has won a national award for sustainability.
The Woo Bikes partnership initiative was recognised with a Gold Green Apple Award for Innovation.
The Green Apple Environment Awards, run by The Green Organisation, recognise, reward and promote environmental best practice around the world.
The £87,000 Woo Bikes scheme, which consists of 50 electric bikes (e-bikes), expanded on the University’s own long running pedal bike share initiative. It involves a number of partners, including Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, Worcestershire County Council and Worcester City Council. When it launched in February 2018, it was one of the Country's largest city-wide e-bike share schemes. It allows people to use e-bikes to get around the city, which they can hire out from certain hubs. The pilot began as a University based scheme for staff and students, but has since expanded to include several local businesses and organisations. The aim is to expand it further.
The project stemmed from the University and City Council’s joint aim to encourage more cycling. Alongside providing a more sustainable mode of transport to help tackle air pollution and car congestion, there are also health benefits for users. The pilot specifically targeted reducing the number of commute journeys by people driving on their own to work or study who live within 5 miles of their destination. The project differs from traditional e-bike schemes, aiming to reduce significant up-front infrastructure investment and operational costs. It was developed so it could be adapted for use by other local authorities and universities.
Katy Boom, the University’s Director of Sustainability, said: “We are delighted that the partnership’s work to improve sustainable transport in the local area using e-bikes, piloted by the University, has been recognised in this way. We hope that this pilot scheme could provide a successful and more affordable framework for other similar projects all over the country. We are committed as a University to not only continually improving our own sustainability practices, but on educating future generations and playing a part in bringing about positive change in the wider community. This project shows the potential difference that organisations working together can make to the lives of those in the City, County and beyond.”
The University also won a silver Green Apple in the Benchmarking Universities category. This related to the University’s development of an online sustainability benchmarking tool to evaluate how well sustainability has been integrated into the curriculum and research at both the University of Worcester and Kingston University. Longer term, it could be developed as a tool for other higher education institutions to use.
This latest success comes shortly after the University was named the UK’s Sustainability Institution of the Year in the 2019 Green Gown Awards. It also earned a highly commended in the Campus of the Future category of the awards for its redevelopment project, transforming a historic Worcester building into a new arts facility, called the Art House.
Last year the University was once again ranked in the top five sustainable universities in the country in the People and Planet University League, which measures sustainability performance at higher education institutions. The University, in close partnership with the Students’ Union, has pioneered many initiatives to promote sustainability over the last 15 years, including much improved recycling, promoting walking and cycling wherever possible, and practical changes such as introducing less energy intensive lighting and solar heated hot water.