Keen to support its employees with environmentally-friendly travel options, the University of St Andrews introduced an electric bike scheme in July 2018.
Funded by Sestrans, the regional transport authority, the scheme allows employees to borrow an e-bike free of charge for up to 24 hours in order to make journeys during work, or any time at the weekend.
Through the scheme, the university provides 19 e-bikes at five sites, and more than 130 employees have gone through training to use them. The scheme was first introduced to help staff travel to a new campus four miles away from St Andrews, which is due to open towards the end of 2019, but it has also proven popular for other journeys.
Alistair Macleod, transition manager at the university, says: “It’s been a real enabler to get people out of their cars. Although we initially thought it would be for journeys to and from the new campus and the train station, now within-work travel and commuter travel are quite popular, and people are using them at the weekend too.”
The university also promotes the use of cycling with standard bikes. It offers free maintenance courses twice a week and training for employees that want more confidence in using their bikes.
“Initially I didn’t think we’d have a big take up, but we started offering Essential Cycling, which is a two-hour training [session], and that’s really popular,” says Macleod. “It showed that there were quite a few people that were keen to cycle, but just didn’t have that confidence to get on the road and wanted a little bit of help with basic skills.”
Macleod explains that the main driver for the e-bike funding is environmental, but that the university is also keen to support its 2,100 employees with flexible travel options. “The university has a clear climate change strategy,” he says. “At the same time we have to give flexibility; we have to ensure that staff are able to get in and make their childcare commitments. We have put in secure cycle storage, provided training, assistance with bike maintenance, and we’re trying to support wider things like cycle route creation.”
In line with its sustainable travel policy, the university runs an all-electric company car club. This is a fleet of ten electric vehicles, comprising eight cars and two vans, for employees to use on a short-term rental basis for business purposes.
St Andrews is also keen to encourage employees to reduce their own car use, and to car share where they can. It uses the website Liftshare to enable employees to match up with one another, or with members of the public, who are travelling the same route. Around 300 employees are currently registered with the website.