Swansea and London Borough of Hillingdon will see the arrival of new university bike share schemes this spring, after Swansea University and Brunel University London won the Santander Cycles University Challenge.
Santander Cycles now covers 100 square kilometers of London, making it geographically the second largest cycle hire scheme in Europe. They brought this experience and expertise to UK universities, excluding those that are already covered by an existing cycle scheme.
The competition received entries from across the country, with universities looking to develop sustainable transport schemes around their campuses. The universities which took part were: Northumbria, Newcastle, Lancaster, Leicester, Essex, Swansea, Leeds, Chester, Bath Spa, Portsmouth, East Anglia, Cardiff Metropolitan, St. Andrews, Cranfield, Royal Holloway, Nottingham, York, Kent, Brunel London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Plymouth, and Surrey.
In the initial phase of the competition, the university teams benefited from expert consultancy allowing them to design bike schemes to meet their specific needs. They received support from Santander and its cycle partner, Nextbike, which runs more than 130 schemes worldwide.
After reaching the final shortlist of five from the initial 23 entrants, the universities ran month-long crowdfunding-led campaigns to see which institution could raise the most money to cover the on-going running costs of their proposed university bike share scheme. Swansea University and Brunel University London won the competition, respectively raising 188% and 175% of their fundraising target. They will now receive the capital costs for their university bike share schemes from Santander, which will cover the initial £100,000 investment in a number of docking stations, 50 bikes and the technology required to operate the scheme.
While they are university bike share schemes, they will be open to students, residents and visitors alike.
Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK, said: “We congratulate Swansea University and Brunel University London for winning against such tough competition. The standard of entries was incredibly high and the level of commitment from all the finalists throughout the challenge, and in particular during the crowdfunding phase, was exceptional. Most importantly, the winners were able to demonstrate the support from those who will benefit most from the scheme – their own communities. This has been a unique element of this challenge, a pioneering approach, which we hope will ultimately contribute to its long-term success. We look forward to working with both institutions over the coming months to get the cycle schemes ready for launch.”
Initially, Swansea’s Santander Cycles scheme will include 50 bikes with five docking stations located along the city’s main cycle path. Docking stations will be located at Singleton Park Campus, the Civic Centre, the National Waterfront Museum, Fabian Way Park and Ride and the Bay Campus. The university has over 18,000 students who will benefit from the scheme, but the initiative has also proven extremely popular amongst city businesses and residents, with large numbers pledging their support during the crowdfunding campaign.
Professor Richard B Davies, Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University said: “Winning the Santander Cycles University Challenge demonstrates the ambition and ‘can do’ attitude of Swansea University. We have had overwhelming support for the campaign, not just from the university community, but also from across the City and beyond. The level of support we have had throughout the entire process from Santander, Crowdfunder and Nextbike has been outstanding, and we’re very much looking forward to continuing this relationship as we work towards the launch of the scheme this Spring.”
Brunel’s Santander Cycles scheme will include eight docking stations and 50 bikes installed at several locations around Hillingdon, including Uxbridge underground station, Hillingdon Hospital, and various sites across the university campus. Extensive support for the scheme came from across the London Borough of Hillingdon which, along with over 14,000 students at the university, will benefit from the new initiative.
Professor Julia Buckingham, Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel, said: “The sheer amount pledged, which is significantly more than was originally asked for, goes to show just how enthusiastic Brunel’s students, staff and local partners are for our own bike scheme. I am so proud of everyone involved in making this a reality, and I can’t wait to see our fleet of ‘Brunel Bikes’ out on the streets of Hillingdon, serving a healthier and happier community.”
The shortlisted universities (The University of Birmingham, Brunel University London, the University of Portsmouth, the University of Surrey and Swansea University) also benefitted from advice from Crowdfunder, the UK’s leading crowdfunding platform, on how to raise funds to cover the on-going operating costs of such a university bike share scheme.
Since launching in July 2010, more than 63 million journeys have been made on Santander’s London bikes, with last year being the most successful year in the scheme’s history, with over 10.3 million hires. By early December 2017, the scheme had already reached 9.9 million hires of which 2.25 million have been made through the Santander Cycles app. Among the improvements made to the popular scheme last year were the launch of the new advanced generation Santander Cycles with smart technology, the introduction of Blaze Laserlights to all 12,000 bikes as well as more Cycles and docking stations, including at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and more recently Brixton.