University’s latest re-Cycling scheme causes a ‘chain’ reaction.

Posted on 24th November 2017

A new re-cycling partnership between the University of Chester and local social enterprise, Bren Bikes, with the help of Cheshire Police, is proving to be a great way of putting students and staff in the riding seat when it comes to sustainability.

International student Pia Gutierrez with her reconditioned bike; Mariusz Goralski from Bren Bikes; Jack McGovern, Chester Students’ Union Vice-President (Activities).
International student Pia Gutierrez with her reconditioned bike; Mariusz Goralski from Bren Bikes; Jack McGovern, Chester Students’ Union Vice-President (Activities).

The partnership offers students and staff the opportunity to buy a bike at a much more affordable rate. Chester Police have already donated 18 bikes to the University (these are lost property or seized bikes which have never been claimed by their rightful owners). They are currently being refurbished by the team at Bren Bikes, before being made available to University staff and students.

Bren Bikes is a working bicycle workshop and takes old bikes from the community and reconditions them. The project offers people with learning disabilities and autism in the local area the opportunity to become trainees, fixing and servicing bikes, forming part of the Bren Project's work assisting people to experience fully supported work placements throughout Cheshire. Graham Weaver, Charity Manager for the Bren Project, said: “We've been delighted to work with the University on this exciting initiative. It's great to see a large organisation in Chester making a commitment to getting people cycling, and it's been a wonderful opportunity for us to spread the news about our work to a larger audience.”

The affordable bike partnership is part of the University’s commitment to sustainability. The institution is encouraging staff and students to get on their bikes, reducing demand for parking, improving air quality and improving health and wellbeing of both staff and students.

Tamara Hunt, the University’s Sustainability Officer added: “This is a great example of taking something that would otherwise be disposed of, repairing and reusing it. At the same time, it creates a positive impact on our local community, economy and environment. We don’t just want to reduce our negative impact on the environment, but actively create positive change that will have long-lasting results.”

Through this partnership, students at the University also have the opportunity to get involved with marketing, engineering, sales and organising cycle rides. Charlotte Domokos, a final year Business and French student, is volunteering with the team to design and implement the marketing campaign to students. Charlotte said “It’s a great opportunity to apply what I’ve learnt on my course. I’ve created a marketing plan for my assignment and I’m really looking forward to the chance to implement that, as well as being able to demonstrate my experience in future job interviews.”

The initiative launched at the start of the academic year and was followed with a series of events throughout October as part of the University’s Health and Wellbeing month. Within the first few weeks, there has already been a great response, and eight bikes have already been sold to staff and students.

Pia Gutierrez, an international student from Costa Rica, bought the first bike so that she can get around Chester, and to gym sessions more easily. She said: “I planned to buy the bike to move about quicker inside Chester´s city centre but, since I got the bike, I have discovered so many nice places, which you can access with the bike. I would recommend that all students buy a bike and discover all these lovely places around Chester, enjoying the scenery and nature."

Anyone wishing to find out more about the scheme can contact Green Chester: greenchester@chester.ac.uk.