Gardening with Electric Bikes

Executive Summary:

Grounds Management, the UW farm and the UW Botanic Gardens (UWBG) are looking to reduce our carbon footprint by adding 7 electric bikes to our fleets. Our goals are to decrease our to reduce our reliance on vehicles that burn fossil fuels and show that electric bikes can be used as a alternative for fossil fuel burning vehicles for the majoirty of maitenance tasks accomplished on campus. These bikes would be used on main campus, the UW Farm, the Center for Urban Horticulture and the Arboretum. Each of these organizations works directly with students who would benefit from this program. We will track our gas usage with the goal of reducing the amount of C02 put into the atmosphere by 30,000 pounds.Over time we will review how often these bikes are being used, and the cost savings accrued, with the overall goal of using the money saved to supply each Grounds Management crew a bike (9 total). Switching to an all electric fleet is currently not feasible for the majority of UW departments and this grant will be treated as a feasibility study to show that electric bicycles can be financially and envrionmentally beneficial for UW departments. The overall costs requested from the Campus Sustainability Funds including a 10% contingency is $117,125.

Student Involvement:

Students will be involved throughout all facets of this project. The project is currently facilitated by a graduate student research assistant from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences with the title Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Sustainability Coordinator. The IPM and Sustainability Coordinator will attend sustainability events and will develop educational and outreach components for the program. The graduate student will be responsible for record keeping, costs and the productivity of the project. The graduate student currently uses a truck at least twice a week. If the grant is accepted this student will rely solely on the electric bicycles. In addition there are many student volunteers that work on campus for a variety of restoration and horticulture related tasks. For example the society for ecological restoration works on multiple campus projects such as the Kinkaid Ravine. Unfortunately, these students are not able to use Facilities fossil fuel vehicles. The IPM and Sustainability coordinator will work with different grounds related student volunteer groups throughout campus and supply them with the Grounds Shop bicycles for their various tasks.

In addition this project will supply student workers and volunteers at the UW farm with a means of transportation. Students will now be able to travel with ease from the farms main site at the CUH to their locations on main campus (Mercer Court and McMahon Hall). The farm currently works with over 400 students that would directly benefit from receiving an electric bicycle. The farm has a new UW Gleaning team run primarily by students who would benefit directly from the E-bike. The team is run jointly by the UW farm and UW pantry. The pantry would be utilizing the E-bike for gleaning across campus dinning.

The E-Bicycle Mail & Package Delivery Program established a partnership with the HUB Graphic Design Office where student employees created the designs for our education outreach material. We will look to expand this partnership to include Grounds Management and UWBG.

UWBG often hosts student interns in the spring and summer quarters. These students are restricted from operating the current fleet of vehicles making transportation difficult. An E-Bike would allow student interns to safely move tools to and from their worksites, and greatly enhance their independence. Hosting student interns is an important part of the mission of UWBG and helps train the next generation of horticulturists. Having an E-Bike would greatly enhance the student intern program.  

Education & Outreach:

Climate change is one of the biggest problems facing our planet today. In 2016, transportation contributed up to 28.5 percent of the damage ( As one of the country’s leading institutions, it is the University of Washington’s obligation to lead the charge in the fight against climate change. Grounds maintenance is an area that burns a significant amount of fossil fuels. Finding ways to keep the productivity of grounds management high, while reducing its fossil fuel consumption is currently a high priority. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels while keeping our productivity high and will show other Universities that going green can be financially advantageous. The University of Washington’s Climate Action Plan sets a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2020 and by 36% by 2035.

The goals of this program are to (1) vastly decrease the carbon footprint of UW Grounds Management, the University of Washington Botanic Gardens (UWBG), which includes WPA, Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH) and the UW Farm by reducing our reliance on vehicles that burn fossil fuels and (2) show that Electric Bikes can be used as a viable alternative for fossil-fuel burning vehicles for the majority of maintenance tasks. Many of the jobs completed by Grounds Management and UWBG can be accomplished without the need of high consumption vehicles (such as the trucks and gasoline powered utility vehicles). Switching to an all-electric fleet is currently not feasible for the majority of UW departments and this grant will be treated as a feasibility study to show that electric bicycles can be financially and environmentally beneficial for departments. Data about the economic and environmental benefits of the program will be tracked and shared by the graduate student employed by grounds management. 

Outreach efforts will be conducted by each contributing branch (Grounds Management, UWBG).  Each bicycle, which will be displayed throughout campus, will include numerous stats about the environmental and economic benefits of the program (such as the amount of atmospheric carbon that has been reduced due to each bike). Information will be included about the program on both the Grounds Management and UWBG websites. The UWBG has one of the most extensive outreach programs on the University of Washington campus in that it provides weekly adult education classes. Efforts will also be made to contact UW daily about including an article about this new project. 

Environmental Impact:
  • Transportation
Project Longevity:

Below you will find an estimate of costs associated with this project. Including the bicycles, annual maintenance costs for five years and bicycle supplies. The amount requested from CSF including five years of maitenance and a 10% contingency totals to $117,125.

The bikes for the proposed grant will be purchased through Family Cyclery. This company supplied the bikes for E-Bicycle-Mail & Package Delivery Program. The Grounds staff reviewed bicycles from three companies and thought the ones from Family Cyclery were the safest and most feasible for the jobs accomplished by the UW Farm and UW Grounds staff. The package campus delivery program has been extremely pleased with the company and we hope to continue this successful partnership.

We’ve included 5 years of maintenance on the bicycles after which, each faction on this grant (the UW Grounds Shop, and UWBG) will assume responsibility for their bikes supplies and maintenance (see attached for maitenance details). 

Thank you for considering this proposal!

Environmental Problem:

The University of Washington contains one of the premier campuses in the country. However, staff and students rely heavily on fossil fueled vehicles for transportation of goods and services. Grounds Management, the UW farm and the UW Botanic Gardens (UWBG) at the University of Washington currently contain 26 vehicles that run on gas including various trucks and gators (small utility vehicles). These vehicles are used throughout campus on a variety of jobs aimed to improve the campus’s aesthetics. On average, the vehicles used by Grounds Management, UWBG and the UW Farm burn 8,000 gallons of gas a year which release 160,000 pounds of C02 into the atmosphere.

UW Botanic Gardens (UWBG), which includes the Washington Park Arboretum (WPA) horticulture staff uses 4 vehicles that run on gas, and two utility vehicles that run on biodiesel. WPA has been gaining staff in the past few years, and the fleet of vehicles must grow to accommodate these personnel. UWBG would like to expand the fleet in the greenest and smallest footprint manner possible, and a utility bike would be the perfect fit for the organization.

The UW farm and the Student Pantry rely on fossil fueled vehicles (a truck and UCar) for transporting perishable food from the farm sites and campus dining sites to the Student Pantry every week. Organic produce grown at the UW Farm and food produced at campus dining locations have been donated to the Student Pantry for more than two years. The food items are small quantities from multiple locations which are highly perishable and need to be transported to the Pantry within 24 hours of harvest. Trips occur up to two to three times a week, nearly, year-round. We estimate that this would reduce up to 2 tons of food waste per year.

A shared electric bike with attached cargo bin for the UW farm and the Student Pantry would reduce the need for fossil fuel burning vehicles and make movement more efficient, flexible and agile. Often, produce amounts are small, but are too bulky for hand-carrying. Using an electric bike is a more scale appropriate option.

Providing E-bikes to Grounds Management, the UW Farm, and UWBG will help the University towards these emissions goals.

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

Recently, a grant was received by UW Mailing services which provided them with an E-Bicycle-Mail & Package Delivery Program. This grant has been extremely successful and it is a desire of Grounds Management, UWBG and the UW Farm to emulate its success. Although a truck will be required for the occasional job, we are proposing to reduce our reliance on them with the goal of using1500 less gallons of gasoline per year. The reduction of 1500 gallons of gas per year will decrease the amount of C02 put into the atmosphere by 30,000 pounds and will save the University $4,500 dollars per year (at $3 per gallon of gasoline).

We propose to reduce UW’s reliance on gas powered vehicles by supplying 4 electric bicycles to be shared throughout the Grounds Management shop, 1 electric bike for the Center for Urban Horticulture staff, 1 electric bike for the WPA horticulture staff and 1 for the UW farm (7 total). Of these 7 vehicles 5 will be electric with a hatchback, 1 will be an electric with front racks and rear bags (for small jobs) and 1 will be a small fold up electric bike (for attending meetings and other non-laborious tasks). The different bikes were chosen to maximize their usage. We will also require miscellaneous accessory items such as helmets and u locks. Over time we will review how often these bikes are being used, and the cost savings accrued, with the overall goal of using the money saved to supply each Grounds Management crew a bike (9 total) and reducing the amount of gas-powered vehicles that are used per day. The bikes were split up according to the size of the department and each department’s potential need. The UW grounds shop currently has over 40 employees which is more than triple the other partnering departments combined.

Eventually we would like to be one of the first University Grounds Management Operations to run predominately on electric and people powered vehicles.

Total amount requested from the CSF: $117,125
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


Gardening with Electric Bikes Budget
ItemCost per ItemQuantityTotal Cost
Initial Costs for Bikes and Trailers:
Urban Arrow Shorty E-Bike w/paint job:,306.67536,533.33
Vektron folding bicycle w/paint job,34913,349
Tern GSD Electric Bike: 6,568.3416,568.34
Miscellaneous Items:
Locks: BORDO Big 6000-Extra long length 3.9’-5mm steel links757525
Storage Shed reconstruction (For Grounds Management) -The shed where the bikes will reside needs significant work to fit the bikes. The high price is due to the reconstruction efforts that would need to occur. We would work with CSF and a student to see if it was feasible to build some sort of green roof onto this structure. This could be seed money for an additional future project.10,000110,000
5 year Maintenance Plan4,984734,888
Carport awning for storage (Arboretum)3,00013,000
Advanced Mechanic Tool Kit-AK3 -Tool kit which will be used for years 6-10 maintenance of the bikes that will be done in house. 305.951305.95
Project Subtotal96,709.62
Tax (10.1%)9,767.67
Project Total106,477.29
Project Total Including 10% Contingency117,125

Non-CSF Sources:

In-Kind Donation
SourceType of FundingDetailsTotal Hours (five years)Estimated Cost
IPM and Sustainability CoordinatorIn-Kind DonationsThe IPM Coordinator through Grounds Management will transport the bikes multiple times per year to Family Cyclery for there maintenance requirements. In addition they will track the environmental and economic success of the program. If successful grounds will look to purchase more E-Bikes and remove some of their trucks. The IPM coordinator will also work with CSF to maximize the outreach efforts of the program.20010,000
Project Completion Total: $127,125


Gardening with Electric Bikes Project Timeline
TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Phase 1: Mid-March - Mid-May 2018
Determine Amount of Funding ReceivedMid-May - Early June
Submit an Order for Bikes and Gear Based off of the Level of Funding1 WeekJune 1st, 2019
Include information about the program on the Grounds Management and UWBG Website1 MonthJune 1st, 2019
Contact UW Daily about potentially including an article about this new project. 1 MonthJune 1st, 2019
Plan storage space construction around the Grounds Management Shop (Plant Annex 4) and at the Arboretum. 1 MonthJune 1st, 2019
Phase 2: July - September 2019
Receive Fully Equipped Models2 MonthsJuly 1st, 2019
Bikes are implemented into Grounds Management and UWBG fleets3 monthsAugust 1st, 2019
Follow up with UW Daily about potential publishing of article2 WeeksJuly 15th, 2019
Contact local media about running a story on the program1 monthAugust 1st, 2019
Start construction of storage spaces4 monthsSeptember 1st, 2019
Phase 3: October 2019 - January 2020
Evaluate current bike usage and purchase more bikes if needed.TBDJanuary, 2020
Monitor Program with the help of facility services. Examine the reduction of C02 before and after bikes were implemented into Grounds Management and UWBG fleet. OngoingOngoing
Grounds management and UWBG takes over payments for annual maintenance1 WeekJune 1st, 2024