Local Cycling Scheme Recognised for Efforts to Improve Sustainability

A scheme to get more people cycling has been recognised with an International CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Excellence Award.

Woo Bikes, a partnership pilot e-bike scheme, led by the University of Worcester alongside Worcester City Council, Worcestershire County Council and Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, was awarded a Silver award for its efforts to encourage people to move around the City and County more sustainably.

The Awards, run by The Green Organisation, reward companies, councils and communities for their efforts to be a realistic force for good and change for the better and involved more than 500 nominations in 2020.

The Woo Bikes scheme, which consists of 50 electric bikes (e-bikes), expanded on the University’s own long-running pedal bike share initiative. When launched in 2018, it was one of the Country’s largest city-wide e-bike share schemes.  The pilot began as a University-based scheme for staff and students and has since expanded to include several local businesses and organisations.

The award judges commented: “This pilot scheme stems from the University of Worcester and Worcester City Council’s joint aim to encourage their community to get on their bikes.  One of the key ambitions is to enable businesses to consider an e-bike as a replacement for their business use miles and to encourage staff to change some of their commute journeys from single car occupancy to cycling.”

Professor David Green CBE, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Worcester, said: “This Award reflects our wider commitment to sustainability and to encouraging people to find alternative ways to get around. The University was named the UK’s Sustainability Institution of the Year in late 2019 and has earned First Class Honours in the annual green universities’ league for more than a decade. We have long worked with our many partners in education, business and public services, to promote practical change, planning, education, and research in order to cut carbon emissions and make an even bigger contribution to benefit the people and the planet.”

Councillor Andy Stafford, Vice Chair of Worcester City Council’s Environment Committee, added: “Worcester City Council is committed to ensuring the city is carbon-neutral by 2030 and we have just adopted a detailed Environmental Sustainability Strategy, setting out a roadmap for how we will work to achieve this. The Woo Bikes initiative is a great example of how local authorities, the education sector and businesses can work together to achieve the level of sustainability we all need to deliver, and I am very happy to see our leadership in this area being recognised in the CSR Excellence Awards.”

The award comes as Woo Bikes was awarded an £18,000 grant to further the project through the Net Zero Innovation fund, which is delivered in collaboration between the Local Government Association and University College London and aims to bring councils and universities together to develop practical projects to address local challenges.  This will be used to conduct further research and scale up the scheme.

The University also won a Bronze CSR Excellence Award for its work on sustainable universities.  It has been working with the University of Kingston to develop a sustainability benchmarking tool to evaluate the integration of sustainability in curriculum and research at their institutions.

The tool was also designed to be applied in other higher education institutions, using a simple website with instructions, and to be semi-automated, requiring relatively little staff time and resources.

As a result of this Awards success, the University and Council have been invited to have the winning paper published in The Global Guide to CSR Excellence (the leading international work of reference on corporate social responsibility best practice) so that others around the world can follow their lead and learn from their achievements.