UWE cyclist returns to UK after 2,000 mile trip

Issue date: 08 September 2006

Steve Melia University of the West of England research student, Steve Melia, will arrive at Poole Harbour at 12.45 on Sunday 10 September, having completed a 2,000 mile cycle ride to Germany and back. Steve cycled to Vauban, the largest car-free neighbourhood in Europe with a population of 5,000 people.

Steve said, “It's been a wonderful experience but tougher than expected at times. For much of the way out in July it was too hot to ride in the afternoon, so I would get up at around 5.30am and try to reach my destination by midday. On the way back the temperature dropped and it rained for days. The hardest day was climbing through the mountains of Les Vosges, when the weather was foul. On the way down I saw a car smash into, and partly demolish, the front of a house.

“I've collected a lot of material which will help with my research into car free living in the UK. There are obviously cultural differences, and nowhere is ever perfect, but I believe there are lessons we can learn from Freiburg. Through a combination of pedestrianisation, cycle priority measures, public transport improvements and car free residential areas they have succeeded in reducing car journeys and improving the quality of life.”

Steve's route included Roscoff, Rennes, Aubusson, Beasancon, Mulhouse, Freiburg, Nancy, Paris and Rouen. In Freiburg he met with representatives of the City of Freiburg Transport Planning and Town Planning. One of the objectives of the trip was to prepare for the visit of academics and researchers from UWE's WHO Research Centre. The date for the visit needs to be confirmed but the City Officials have agreed in principle to host a visit from UWE.

Steve continues, “I spent two weeks in Vauban, the new car free district of Freiburg. Most of the residential areas of Vauban are car free with vehicles given access solely for deliveries. I also explored Freiburg by bike making notes of transport conditions. The Vauban district is a new neighbourhood due for completion this year built on a former army base.”

Steve's trip was taken to support his PhD research which investigates the potential demand for car free neighbourhoods in the UK. His research is funded by the ESRC (Economics and Social Research Council) and the Department for Transport.
Steve kept a blog of his trip on his local Friends of the Earth website at http://www.southhamsfoe.co.uk


Editors note:

Visual of Steve Melia on his cycle ride available from jayne.andrews@uwe.ac.uk

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