Issue date: 25 August 2010
A recent survey carried out by researchers from the University of the West of England's Centre for Transport and Society
has shown that there has been a rise in the number of people cycling to UWE over the past two years.
A sample estimated to represent around a quarter of the Frenchay Campus cyclist population was interviewed earlier this year and findings have just been reported.
Project leader Professor Graham Parkhurst said, “We carried out this survey for the Highways Agency as part of their travel plan monitoring work. We already knew that there are currently at least 800 people cycling on a typical day to the Frenchay Campus but we didn't know anything about their motivations or how long they had been cycling. The aim was to establish whether people recently taking up cycling had reduced their car trips.
“Our recent survey suggests that around 160 of the current cyclists had started to ride bikes to the University in the past two years with a greater number opting to cycle in the past 12 months compared with the number indicating they had begun in the previous 12 months. There are different possible explanations for this finding but overall the survey suggests that in part it is due to an overall growth in cycling.”
No dominant motivation to cycle was found, but respondents cited cost, journey time and reliability factors alongside fitness benefits. For those who had started cycling in the last two years nearly half said that the bus had been their main mode of transport prior to making the switch to bike and for a quarter it was the car.
Researcher Henrietta Sherwin concludes, “This is important in terms of the University achieving its sustainability target and although some individuals had switched from walking the main change was from motorised transport.”
The survey was funded by the Highways Agency
in order to determine the effects of good quality travel plans on major travel destinations. Michael Ginger, Highways Agency, said, “ The Highways Agency works with centres of employment close to the motorway network to address travel demand through better travel planning; car sharing; public transport; cycling and walking. This research was part of a larger piece of work to look at the impacts of this at UWE.”
Many staff at UWE were inspired to start cycling by the incentive of a tax free bike bought on the Cycle to Work scheme
Tessa Harrison UWE's Academic Registrar made the conscious decision not to drive years ago. Her daily commute from Bath combines cycling and a train journey and in the summer she does the Bristol to Bath Cycle path at least twice a week. Tessa said, “I don't own a car, I belong to a car share scheme but I prefer to cycle everywhere. Throughout my career I have always cycled to work. The facilities here at UWE are much better than those I've experienced at other universities with plenty of secure parking and showers. In my view there is absolutely no excuse for anyone living in the city not to cycle.
“I love cycling because of the fresh air even when it's cold and raining! I find the cycle home makes a good transition between work and home life. Cycling is also really sociable and I've met people from all over the University who I may not have encountered in the normal course of my working day.
“I bought my wonderful Brompton folding bike on the Cycle to Work scheme and I can honestly say that it has transformed my life as it's so much easier to combine with a train commute.”
Professor Alan Tapp from UWE's Bristol Business School wins the prize for one of the longest commutes to work. He notches up over 100 miles every week. “I cycle from Chepstow at least three days each week and have done so since I joined UWE in 2000. I take Sustrans routes and quiet back ways where I can. Even on good days the winds over the Severn can be pretty challenging but once I'm away from the bridge I can bomb along. Maybe there are too many excuses not to cycle – I know I am lucky because I do have my own office, with a radiator and window so I can dry wet clothes easily when it rains. In Holland – yes it's flat – people don't worry about showers and getting wet – they just get on with it – over here we sometimes seem to make such a big fuss about it all and maybe we shouldn't because it's easier than people might think and just becomes what you do. Give it a go.”
Barbara Dale from UWE Human Resources has cycled to work since the end of 2000. She used to ride a hulking heavy bike bought cheaply but invested in a Ridgeback Velocity from Bike UK in Clifton that she purchased through the Cycle to Work scheme in 2007. Barbara has a short commute from Filton and when she started to cycle in she hadn't been on a bike for 20 years.
“What started me off was a total frustration with traffic when I started working at UWE. I thought I'd give cycling a go and I haven't looked back. The journey took 30 minutes the first time I did it as I had to get used to cycling again but now I zoom in, in about 10 minutes. I cycle in all weathers, apart from when it's really slippery with ice. I did try to cycle in when it snowed this year but it was a bit too dangerous so I walked as I don't live that far away.”