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AUSA Secures £35K to Expand Bike Hire Scheme

Application For £50K of Scottish Government Funding Fell Short by Only 7 Votes

By Clive Davies

Photo by Fergus Doogan

AUSA has been pursuing alternative avenues of funding for their free bike hiring scheme after failing to secure £50,000 from the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Participatory Budgeting Fund, a sustainability fund supporting projects that contribute to a transition to net zero.

Members of the public were asked to vote for their choice of project from a selection of 22 applicants. Projects would then be allocated funding proportionate to the votes received until the £333,000 pot was empty.

Despite extensive campaigning online and on campus, AUSA’s campaign narrowly missed out on securing funds by a mere 7 votes, making it the most supported project to ultimately not receive any funding.

Joseph Huttich, AUSA’s member of staff in charge of the scheme, believes that the December vote may have come at an inopportune time for campaigning, stating:

‘While this [was] annoying for everyone who put a lot of effort into our campaign, we would like to imagine we could have been successful had the vote been at a time when more students were on campus…’

Despite disappointment in the result, AUSA has been able to secure over £20,000 from the Transport for Scotland eBike Grant from the Energy Saving Trust, as well as £5,000 from the University of Aberdeen’s Development Trust. In addition, the University has contributed their stock of staff E-bikes to the project, having switched to using Big Issue E-bikes as transportation.

AUSA began the scheme in 2019 through a combination of funding from the Climate Challenge Fund and a donation of bicycles from RGU Union. Since then, AUSA asserts that their bikes have been ridden over 13,800km.

Although theirs is not the first free bike hire service in Aberdeen, AUSA stress that their project is primarily aimed at accessibility; prioritising the ordering of trikes, recumbent bicycles and other forms of adapted vehicles.

While AUSA have delayed the launch of some of their bicycles, citing supply chain issues, the overall sense is optimistic, with Communities VP Camilo Torres Barragán adding:

‘We are… hoping that the University see how helpful bikes are for students to save money, gain autonomy, stay active and get to know their surroundings better, and decide to give us more support.’

Details about how to take advantage of the scheme can be found on AUSA’s website.


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