Two people at a Bike Maintenance event in the Sir Ian Wood Building

Ride to net zero: A year of successful cycling initiatives

By Clara Maurillon - 10 July 2024

2024 was the third year RGU received funding for a Campus Cycling Officer to support our journey to Net Zero. Current Campus Cycling Officer Bianca Anechite answers our questions about the initiatives she has led in the past year and their impact on the community.

Can you tell us more about the cycling events and initiatives that took place during your time at Campus Cycling Officer?

As part of RGU’s sustainability programme, cycling has been heavily promoted both by my role as Campus Cycling Officer, and through the many activities organised throughout the last year, including:

Cycling confidence training

For example, as you may have seen advertised relentlessly on the Bulletin, several cycling confidence training sessions have been arranged, where individuals get one-on-one training with a professional trainer from Sustrans on the basics of cycling, from learning how to balance on a bike and pedalling to using the brakes and gears.


These sessions have helped at least five people who were initially very nervous about cycling to pick it up as if they were pros! Considering they had not had the opportunity to cycle for various reasons prior to this training, this has been an incredible initiative for them, and we have received great feedback for it.

Refurbished bike sales

Another key activity has been the organisation of refurbished bike sales. In partnership with Stella’s Voice who have repaired bikes which would have otherwise gone to landfill, RGU has hosted various sales on campus for staff and students, with prices ranging from £40 to £120.

So far, 20 of these bikes have been sold, with more sales yet to come. This activity has not only promoted circular economy principles, through ensuring that no parts have gone to waste, but it has also increased access to bikes for many.


Considering the current expense of buying a new bike, those who come from lower-income households and international students are often restricted from trying out cycling. These sales have ensured inclusivity and have benefited many throughout the university.

Dr Bike

Dr Bike sessions, a partnership with Love to Ride and Sports Aberdeen, have also made a great impact on staff and students. These events have allowed individuals to get their bike repaired for free, with two sessions helping nearly 40 individuals to check their brakes, tyres, gears and more.


Not only have these sessions increased their understanding of bike mechanics, but they have also increased confidence in cycling on a general scale and encouraged longer and more frequent routes. Our partnership with Police Scotland has also allowed us to deliver Bike Security sessions alongside this event, so that those who feel safe riding again can relax even more in the knowledge that they have significantly reduced their chances of bike theft.

Again, we have received a lot of great feedback for these sessions, especially once people found out the service was free!


Lastly, through various funding applications, we have been able to hugely support and promote BikePad. For example, in the last year, we’ve received nearly £20,000 from Cycling Scotland and Paths for All to support cycling activities and infrastructure.

 Part of this funding will go towards four new e-bikes for staff, but we’ve also been able to use it to get accessories and parts for Bikepad along with 16 new bikes which will help massively increase the demand of the services they offer.

Can you tell us more about your community engagement initiatives outside the University?

Of course! Considering the success of the cycling events at RGU, we thought why not extend this beyond the boundaries of the university? This led to my volunteering at Portlethen Primary School as part of a community engagement initiative, where I aided teachers and parents in delivering Bikeability training to P6 students for a few days.

This included teaching four children how to ride a bike, supervising 50-60 children practice their skills on the road, and demonstrating important moves such as pulling up from a kerb, hand signals and turning.

By engaging with the school, the course was able to run for the week, allowing two classes to successfully pass after having learned important basics for cycling on roads. Considering this success, this engagement will hopefully continue to run once courses begin again in September.

We also had a panel talk, followed by a Q&A, arranged back in March as part of the Active Travel Fest, which was open to both university members and the wider community. Speakers from various local organisations (Aberdeen Cycle Forum, Cycling UK, Critical Mass Aberdeen and CTC Grampian) kindly volunteered to come to talk about all things cycling, from motivations for cycling and existing barriers to participation such as gender, policy, infrastructure, as well as possible solutions.

We even had RGU’s very own Student Union Education & Welfare President, Oluwatoyin Bolajoko, moderate the event. What was particularly inspiring was the end speech by a Student Union representative, Johnson Oshodi, who before coming to RGU, had never picked up a bike. However, through the activities mentioned previously, such as cycling confidence training and the refurbished bike sales, he was soon able to comfortably pedal throughout the city. With nearly 50 audience members registered to attend, this event was successful in bringing together members of the institution and community figures in an inspiring way.

Lastly, we have worked with a variety of organisations and groups throughout the city to help promote the cycling agenda and encourage community development in this sector, such as with the local Aberdeen Council, Nestrans, Sustrans, NHS Grampian and BeCycle.

We have shown the local council how popular cycling is and why change throughout the city is needed. For example, through promoting Love to Ride and its app on campus, we have helped them collect data on cycling activity throughout Aberdeen and the shire to show to the local council.

Through attending regular meetings with Sports Aberdeen and Getabout, we have been able to update the local council and relevant organisations on ongoing projects and areas which we need aid with. We have been able to relay comments on the local infrastructure, facilities, and campaigns, and also work together with some of the organisations to encourage more individuals in the communities to take up cycling.

This already has had a large impact on not only the amount of people who have started cycling but also on the city itself, shown through the addition of a cycling path on Union Street in the city centre.

Why is it important that RGU carry out these initiatives with the wider community?

At the end of the day, as soon as we leave the university, we all become part of the wider community, so why not help out someone who could be our neighbour or postman or best friend’s daughter. Ensuring that we have these strong ties with the local community organisations, groups and charities ultimately helps in addressing issues which affect us all, through combining expertise, resources, and skills.

In this way, we can ensure that initiatives are inclusive and sustainable. Engaging with the wider community is also great for the staff and students themselves. I’ve seen members of the University build relationships with our partners which have led to formal training, knowledge transfer and potential volunteering or job opportunities.

Through these connections, RGU has been able to empower its students too, which is always a key aim of the institution.

What has been the highlight of the year for you as Campus Cycling Officer?

Personally, the highlight has been not only getting to meet many of RGU’s fantastic staff and students and the wider community, but seeing how empowered these activities have made them! I think I’ve always taken knowing how to cycle for granted, as I got taught when I was young, but I’m now far more aware of the various barriers that people can face and the importance of spreading the knowledge.

I’ve met people who assumed to be too old to get on a bike, children who feel insecure as they watch their peers riding their bikes and laughing, individuals whose cultures prohibited them from learning how to cycle due to gender disparities. Seeing people’s faces light up when they can finally pedal while keeping their balance, or when they learn that they don’t need to pay extortionate amounts for a new bike or servicing which could keep them from doing what they love, has been so inspiring.


Knowing that I’ve helped to make such a difference in people’s lives and seeing the comments which come in after each activity has been great. At the end of the day, apart from the various benefits it provides such as physical activity, improved mental health and encouraging sustainability, cycling is just really fun and I love being able to help give people that experience.

What would be your ambitions for the next year to build on what has been done already?

I would love to not only continue the activities, but to expand our community engagement initiatives. There are so many ongoing projects throughout Aberdeen which aim to promote cycling to the local community, and many of them rely a lot on partner collaboration.

This could include helping out at active travel fairs, volunteering to run Bikeability courses to other primary schools, encouraging marginalised demographics to participate in led rides, and donating bikes or parts to local organisations who could re-use them for other purposes.

How can the RGU community best engage with cycling initiatives throughout the year?

The best way is to just keep an eye out on social media platforms (GoGreen, the Student Union, and ResLife) and the Bulletin. Any time an event is organised, it will typically be advertised on these platforms along with RGU’s Cycling Group Teams page. It’s also a good way to see if there are any volunteering opportunities available, especially for these future community initiatives, which could look great on CVs!

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