AUSA introduces free bike hire for students
Updated: Mar 28, 2022
Ex-RGU cycles will provide short-term hire alternative to beCyCle
By Jake Roslin
Image courtesy of AUSA
The students’ association has refurbished nine bicycles, which are being offered for free hire to students on a weekly basis.
The cycles were donated to AUSA in 2019 by Robert Gordon University Union (RGUU).
The vehicles had become degraded and beyond economic repair but were refurbished using grant funding from the Scottish Climate Change Fund (CCF) for active travel projects.
Camilo Torres Barragán, AUSA VP for Communities, said: ‘We are delighted to bring back the Bike Hire Scheme to our student community. Any current student of the University of Aberdeen is able to choose one of nine available bikes and hire it short-term, completely free.’
AUSA confirmed other sustainability projects are also in the pipeline, including a revival of its Carbon Literacy Training sessions.
A mixture of mountain, road and hybrid bikes are available, and helmets, locks and USB lights are provided.
Weekly booking periods commence on Tuesday mornings, and reservation is made via the AUSA website.
‘While we have a variety of bikes to suit different cycling needs, we do hope we can make the fleet more accessible in the future,’ a spokesperson told The Gaudie. ‘Especially since a core aim of the program is to provide bikes ready to go for those new to cycling to try.’
The scheme is unrelated to the beCyCle organisation, which provides bikes for longer-term rental to Aberdeen students on payment of a returnable deposit from their premises on Old Aberdeen High Street.
beCyCle also offers familiar bike maintenance workshops for students, held outside New King’s on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. However, they are not presently affiliated with the students’ association.
‘[We] do not wish the current arrangement to duplicate the service they provide,’ AUSA told us. ‘However, we are in permanent communication with them, and we want to collaborate in future active travel projects. The focus of our scheme has been short-term hire.’
AUSA previously had closer links with beCyCle but had a falling out in 2018 over funding issues related to the now-ended AberGreen project, another CCF incentive. The Gaudie contacted beCyCle about AUSA’s new scheme, but they said they do not wish to comment.
‘beCyCle is perfect for students looking for a bike of their own or to learn maintenance skills,’ the students’ association spokesperson continued, ‘while the AUSA program can provide a free bike ready for the road for those willing to give cycling a try, use a bike for a one-off event or trip or get an alternative bike while their own bike needs repairs.’
AUSA also told The Gaudie that they believe sustainability to be ‘one of the most promising aspects of University’s much-touted Aberdeen 2040 plan. ‘They’re working on a policy to promote rail and bus over airplane, among other initiatives,’ they said. ‘In terms of active travel, however, we’ve mentioned to Uni that a bigger-scale bike scheme is needed, and we are working on a plan to lobby them to finance it.
Currently, there are some scattered initiatives and infrastructure provided by the University to promote cycling, but we consider there’s always space for improvement, especially for a more unified and systematised effort to promote cycling among students and staff.’
‘We recognise there is a lot more work that can be done by AUSA, the University and local communities to make sustainability accessible and affordable for all,’ Barragán told The Gaudie, ‘but we hope this is a great start.’
Bicycles may be reserved at https://www.ausa.org.uk/getinvolved/sustainability/hireabike/