One of the country’s largest city-wide electric bike (e-bike) share schemes has launched in Worcester, thanks to a partnership between local organisations.
The Woo Bikes scheme is initially being piloted by staff and students at the University of Worcester but will be open to other employers in the city. The ambition for the project is for it to be rolled out to other parts of the county in the future.
The scheme is a partnership between the University, Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, Worcestershire County Council, Worcester City Council, and technology firm Gtech.
It is hoped that the Woo Bikes will provide a convenient, low cost, healthy option for getting around Worcester.
The scheme will incorporate the University’s current Bike Loan scheme, which has more than 60 members and a supply of 50 pedal bikes. The 50 e-bikes, which can be hired for a 24-hour period, are equipped with a lithium-ion battery, allowing the bike’s motor to give people a boost when needed as soon as they pedal.
More than half the cost of the £87,000 University-led scheme is being met by the LEP with funds also coming from the County and City councils and the University. The bikes are being provided by Gtech, while Spokes, a project within the Kidderminster-based Emily Jordan Foundation charity, will maintain them. Fleet Innovations, in Kidderminster, will provide GPS tracking.
Long-term, one of the key aims of the scheme is to encourage more cycling. Special events, organised and run by University students, will promote the scheme more widely in the City, with have-a-go sessions from April, and weekly taster sessions on campus to encourage the University community to sign up.
Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The Woo Bikes scheme is a fantastic initiative that is already drawing support from local Worcestershire businesses in a unique collaboration. We are delighted to have invested in this scheme to provide the city with access to Gtech’s innovative sustainable transport.”
Cllr John Smith, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Health and Well-being at Worcestershire County Council, said: “Cycle hire schemes can be a good way to encourage cycling, for people who want to gain confidence on the roads or find the initial cost to be a barrier. This project, incorporating easy-to-use electric bikes, will give people a convenient, low cost option for getting around Worcester. It can also increase people’s fitness levels which will help with their overall health and well-being."