Brunel and Hillingdon are to get their own public bike scheme after the university successfully raised over £85,000 to secure a winning spot in the Santander Cycles University Challenge.
Following a flurry of late pledges, Brunel narrowly pipped Birmingham University to second place, securing £85,448 in funding: 175% of the original target.
Eight docking stations and 50 red Santander and Brunel-branded bikes will now be fitted in the early spring at several locations around Hillingdon, including Uxbridge town centre, the university campus, and Hillingdon Hospital, who partnered with Brunel on the scheme.
It’s hoped the bikes will help ease the area's rush hour traffic, reduce pollution, and encourage commuters to ditch their cars in favour of cycling.
The new ‘Brunel Bikes’ scheme, which will be open to everyone, will be installed and operated by Nextbike, with cycles accessed using either a Nextbike membership, or one-off card payment. Public membership will cost £60 per year, whilst Brunel’s students and staff will get a discounted rate of £30. Membership allows for unlimited 60-minute trips per day.
Professor Julia Buckingham, Brunel’s Vice Chancellor and President, said: “The sheer amount pledged – 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’m 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, happier community.”
Launched on Crowdfunder at the beginning of November, the challenge saw five universities vying for a capital investment worth over £100,000, with funding going to the two institutions that were able to crowdfund the scheme’s running costs soonest.
Having smashed the original goal of £48,650, Brunel’s target was ‘stretched’ to £75,000, which was also beaten. In total, 438 supporters pledged between £5 and £5000 to the scheme, ultimately helping Brunel take second place, just behind Swansea but ahead of Birmingham, Portsmouth and Surrey.
The additional funding will allow the cycle scheme to be expanded to include West Drayton’s new Crossrail Station.
Pauldy Otermans, President of the Union of Brunel Students, said: “I hope a lot of people can get a membership – it’s such an easy way to get around. It’s healthier, better for the environment, and you’re not stuck in traffic.
“It’s cheap too. Getting from town to campus and back on the bus costs £3, but membership comes as low as £30 a year, so I hope a lot of people will use the scheme.”
Heathrow’s Sustainable Transport Manager, Theo Panayi, said: “Brunel University London have made a remarkable effort in their campaign to secure a Santander Bike Scheme.
“They have set the wheels in motion on a project that will provide tens of thousands of residents and visitors with access to carbon-free, affordable transport, which is something that we at Heathrow are very passionate about.”
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.”
Top Image: Pauldy Otermans, President of the Union of Brunel Student, and Bill Leahy, Brunel's Deputy Vice-Chancellor, with one of the new 'Brunel Bikes'
Tim Pilgrim, Media Relations
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