UK universities make final push in cycle scheme competition

Five UK universities are battling it out in the Santander Cycles University Challenge to win the upfront costs for their own campus ‘Boris Bikes’.

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For the past month, the Universities of Swansea, Birmingham, Surrey, Portsmouth and Brunel University London have been crowdfunding as much as possible to secure the schemes, which will go to the top two performers. Those five were chosen from an original cohort of 25, all of whom had to design their own cycle hire operation, including bikes.

Santander will provide each of the two winners with up to £100,000 for the initial implementation costs of the scheme, while money raised during the crowdfunding competition will go towards the ongoing operational costs. With just three days of the competition remaining, Swansea is comfortably in the lead, with 101 per cent of its £53,178 target reached. Birmingham University is just behind with 95 per cent of its £47,000 goal, with Brunel following closely with 87 per cent of its £48,650 threshold.  The winning schemes will be brought to fruition in spring 2018.

“The benefits that cycling brings to our health are obvious, but this scheme is more than that – it’s an opportunity to connect the university, the hospital and the rest of the town in a way that can only benefit the whole community,” said Professor Bill Leahy, deputy vice-chancellor at Brunel University.

“The competition is fierce, but I think Uxbridge has what it takes to make this amazing opportunity happen.”

If Brunel and its local partners are successful, docking stations with payment points will be installed at several locations on campus, with further stations made available near Uxbridge station in the town centre, and outside Hillingdon Hospital. 50 bikes would initially be available under the scheme, which it’s hoped will increase cycling between the three locations, taking cars off the road and helping people stay fit.

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