W&M Libraries Purchases Electric Bike Through Green Fee Fund

By Jordan Williams, William & Mary Libraries

William & Mary Libraries is doing its part to help the university reach the goal of a carbon-neutral campus by 2030.

For almost a decade, Lisa Nickel, associate dean of research & public services, and David Morales, head of circulation, have made calculated decisions to decrease fossil fuel emissions in the Libraries delivery process.

“Lisa and I have been in lockstep on trying to go greener and be part of the solution,” Morales said. “We have made efforts to do things we can control, such as purchasing a four-cylinder fuel-efficient van instead of an eight-cylinder. We also started using a low-speed electric vehicle for deliveries and moving people around campus.” 

Student assistant Mary Lawrence Young '22 seated on the electric bike.

Their most recent act was purchasing an electric bike, which will serve as an extension of the low-speed electric vehicle. Morales and Nickel received a grant for the electric bike through the W&M Green Fee Fund

Proposed in a student referendum and approved in a near-unanimous vote by the students in Spring 2008, the W&M Green Fee is intended solely for purposes that advance the university’s interests in sustainability. The program has funded more than $1.6 million worth of sustainability-related projects.

In their grant proposal, Nickel and Morales expressed three ways W&M Libraries will use an electric bike. The first is having a green option for delivering library materials.  

“The electric bike will allow us to have fewer trips using the gasoline-powered vans,” Nickel said. “We want to use fewer fossil fuels and more rechargeable electric practices. Our book delivery students will be able to ride as far as the Law School, Colonial Williamsburg, and the offsite stacks.”

The second reason was to make it available to library staff. Instead of using a car to travel across campus, the new bike will now be an option. And the most compelling role of the electric bike is to model green behavior to the rest of the W&M community.

“We want to show folks this option of movement on campus can work and we are going to model sustainable behavior,” Morales said. “Everyone is going to see Swem student staff riding around campus, and they are going to know that’s the library book delivery bike.”