Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cycle Scheme Whipping Up Real Support; Students Clinch Award for Idea

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cycle Scheme Whipping Up Real Support; Students Clinch Award for Idea

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson

INNOVATIVE cycling students have scooped a university award for their biking business idea.

Jack Payne, 21, and Robert Grisdale, 22, wrote a plan for an automated bike hire scheme as part of their civil engineering studies at Newcastle University. It proved a winner in the university's annual Enterprise Challenge competition.

Now they aim to explore how the venture can be launched after they finish their finals in three weeks' time.

Their WhipBikes plan envisages cycles secured at a network of unmanned stations in Newcastle (called WhipDocks).

Users can release a the cycle to any other convenient Whip- Dock.

Payment is made for the duration of the rental and is debited from the users' account on return of the bike.

Robert said: "From personal experiences, we have learnt that walking from popular areas of student housing can be very time consuming. The Metro and taxis are too expensive and for car owners, congestion, running costs and parking are all problems magnified by the current economic climate.

"Cycling is the ideal solution. It is quick, allows freedom, provides a good form of exercise, and is very cost effective. Perhaps the main benefit is that cycling is environmentally friendly and reduces carbon footprint. " There are nearly 76,000 university smartcard holders in Newcastle.

"Opening up the service to the public is an option for the future, especially considering the popularity of Newcastle as a tourist destination." said Robert.

Jack said: "We both ride bikes and, after getting our finals out of the way, we felt it would be pointless not to give it a go.

"The award has given us the drive we needed to take our idea forward to the next stage."

WORTH THE WAIT WORKING as a waiter at St James's Park on Newcastle United match days for the last eight years gave Chris Dobie an insight into the problems of the job. …

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