p. The University of Washington is investing in a new initiative to decrease the number of people driving to and from campus. By next fall, 40 electric bicycles will be available for students, faculty and staff to rent throughout the day.
p. UW’s Director of Transportation Joshua Kavanagh believes that the bikes will help solve the supposed “last-mile problem.” In recent years, more people at the university have begun to utilize public transportation such as buses and subways. Yet traveling the “last-mile” from the station to campus still poses a problem for many. Additionally, he acknowledged that getting across campus from meetings to classes in a short period of time was sometimes impossible for professors without a car.
p. “It’s much easier to persuade someone to take mass transit for their commute if they know that running to the drug store or lunch is doable,” Kavanagh told Inside Higher Education. “There’s a tremendous market for the last-mile services that help people who want to do the right thing in terms of lowering the impact [on the environment].”
p. Next year, the bikes will be located at various kiosks throughout campus and will be available for hourly rent to anybody with a UW identification card.
p. The “power assisted” bicycles are a hybrid between bicycles and electric scooters. A rider can either pedal normally or travel up to 20 miles per hour by utilizing the power assistance feature on the bicycle. Kavanagh explained that a fully charged bike is capable of making dozens of trips across campus, but he hopes people will save energy by peddling for the majority of their outings.
p. “There is a population that is interested in moving around campus more fluidly, but they’re not ready to commit to peddling up high hills on campus,” Kavanagh said.
p. While the university will be in charge of marketing the program, the majority of the funding will come by way of a $200,000 grant from the Washington Department of Transportation. The initiative is part of UW’s “U-Pass” alternative transportation program, which also includes subsidizing transit trips and van-pooling. The university has the first college transportation initiative to offer automated hourly bike rentals.