Local Cycling Scheme Looks for More Businesses to Get on Board

Woo bike being ridden outside the University of Worcester Arena
A student uses a Woo Bike outside the University of Worcester Arena

Woo Bikes, a partnership e-bike and bike share scheme, led by the University of Worcester alongside Worcester City Council, Worcestershire County Council and Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, has received further funding and hopes to use that money to widen participation in Worcester and allow more businesses to trial bike share and e-bikes with storage solutions.  

Established in 2018, the Woo Bikes scheme, which consists of 50 electric bikes (e-bikes), expanded on the University’s own long-running pedal bike share initiative. When launched, it was one of the Country's largest city-wide e-bike share schemes.  Originally piloted by the University for staff and students, it expanded to include several local businesses and organisations, including Platform Housing Group, Worcestershire County Cricket Club, and Worcester City and Worcestershire County councils.

Earlier this year, a partnership project between Worcester City Council and the University of Worcester was awarded an £18,000 grant to further the project through the Net Zero Innovation Fund, which is delivered in collaboration between the Local Government Association and University College London. This money was allocated to be used for further trials and to scale up the scheme.

Woo Bikes is therefore looking for more Worcester businesses, in particular those where employees are still doing numerous short trips around the City, to trial the scheme between May and August with a view to a potentially permanent arrangement. It is also looking to survey and run focus groups with local businesses to find out about their current transport options and what would need to be in place to help facilitate e-bike use for their business. This work will be carried out by University of Worcester students, along with students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, who regularly do a semester abroad volunteering for the University of Worcester on sustainability projects, and will take part virtually this year. The students will be assisted by behavioural scientists at University College London.

Katy Boom, the University’s Director of Sustainability, said: “This is an exciting new pilot for our innovative bike share. We are using the funding and the changes in working patterns due to Covid-19 to find out if using e-bikes for business trips or moving small items for Worcester businesses is something that might take off here as in other cities, post pandemic. It’s a fantastic opportunity to work with leading behavioural scientists at UCL and the Local Government Association, our students and the WPI research team to develop the bike share scheme.” 

Businesses will get the use of some e-bikes, along with helmets, lights and locks, and bike maintenance, for example in the case of punctures, is provided. Trailers and an e-cargo bike will also be available, which would be suitable for businesses doing deliveries of small items or transporting small loads between sites, up to 60kg.

Woo Bikes recently won with a Silver International CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Excellence Award, awards recognising companies, councils and communities for their efforts to be a realistic force for good. It also won a Gold Green Apple Award for Innovation in 2019.  These Awards, run by The Green Organisation, recognise, reward and promote environmental best practice around the world.

Expressions of interest should be sent to k.boom@worc.ac.uk.