November 10, 2009

Developing effective alternatives to car commuting

Summary of some points to bring to Transport Strategy Group 11 November 2009

Publicising alternatives to car use is often more cost-effective and attitude-changing than civil engineering.

• Better web- and physical signage of routes for cyclists and pedestrians (some exists already).

• Webtools for personal cycleroute planning such as Google pedometer

• Advertise Cycle to Work scheme benefits + 20 p per mile expenses claimable if own cycle used for work-related travel versus real costs of motoring

• Regular updates on e.g. Sustrans’ cross-campus to Kenilworth route

Small works bring big benefits

• Covered ‘Sheffield Stand’ parking close to building entrances

• Secure cycle parking across campus

Planning and implementation in consultation with user communities

• Improving cycle routes around campus would have a significant impact on safety of all campus users, on foot, cycle and car

e.g. entrance / exit to Gibbet Hill cycletrack behind SU; entrance / exit to shared use path between boilerhouse and University House.

• Unforeseen consequences of parking changes on campus – surrounding roads are more congested, more dangerous for cyclists.

Consider The guarantee covers 5 areas:

• Cycle to work scheme – the University subscribes to this

• Cycle storage

• Changing facilities

• Repair/maintenance facilities

• Inspiring cycling – including cycle training)

Adoption of the full guarantee would be a good step towards encouraging more staff and students to take up cycle commuting to campus.

PDF version here cycleagenda.pdf

- 15 comments by 4 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. I’ve just come across this:

    The programme is a highly effective and unique way to help current cyclists to encourage their colleagues to take up cycling. It pits organisations and individual departments against each other to see who can get the most staff to cycle for at least 10 minutes during the two or three week challenge.

    Well it’s an idea!

    10 Nov 2009, 23:00

  2. utube of Cycling Challenge

    10 Nov 2009, 23:04

  3. Graeme Shaw

    What I would most like to see is the University come up with a way to measure the level of cycling (number/% of cycle commuting journeys, or number of staff who cycle commute at least 50% of the time for instance), then set targets to improve it by x amount year on year and come up with a joined up strategy to achieve that.

    I think relatively high levels of cycle commuting could be achieved by the University, but it won’t happen unless they make it a priority and tackle it from every available angle. At the moment it just feels like a piecemeal approach which will only be of benefit to an enthusiastic minority.

    11 Nov 2009, 10:48

  4. Andrew Marsh

    Cycle usage is supposed to measured in the Transport Survey (9% of commutes in 2005 apparently) and in the plan an increase to 11% by 2013 is expected.

    I agree, and the University’s data supports your suggestion that it is an enthusiastic minority who cycle to work currently. I also agree there could be bigger uptake.

    11 Nov 2009, 11:30

  5. Graeme Shaw

    Thanks for that Andrew. I am pleased that there is some data and a target. Do the University have a clear strategy to achieve their 11% target by 2013, and do they have any data to suggest whether we are currently heading in the right direction? Purely from my own observations I suspect there probably has been an increase in % of commutes by bicycle since 2005, but I have no idea how significant an increase that is.

    While I do very much appreciate the University consulting the BUG on such issues, there is a feeling that they are preaching to the choir. In some ways it is pointless to ask us how cycle facilities could be improved, as they’re obviously already good enough for us to commute by bicycle (however inconvenient they might be in some cases). There must be people on campus who would consider cycle commuting but don’t currently for any number of reasons. Perhaps the University should be asking them this question and attempting to identify what changes could be made to encourage them to take up cycle commuting.

    11 Nov 2009, 11:41

  6. Andrew Marsh

    Funny you should ask about:

    “There must be people on campus who would consider cycle commuting but don’t currently for any number of reasons. Perhaps the University should be asking them this question and attempting to identify what changes could be made to encourage them to take up cycle commuting.

    This is exactly what the Transport Strategy Group [notes from meeting to be posted elsewhere apparently] would like someone to do, it seems. Asking the BUG to do this may not be the best idea.

    11 Nov 2009, 12:50

  7. Improving the experience for people who already cycle to work can’t hurt in this regard, though?

    13 Nov 2009, 12:44

  8. Graeme Shaw

    I think improving the experience for people who already cycle to work is an excellent and worthy pursuit, and I’m very grateful for any measures the University take that improve my experience cycling to work. I’m not convinced it’s the best or most cost effective way to encourage more people to cycle to work though.

    13 Nov 2009, 13:22

  9. Don’t forget that the majority of people going to the University are students. They come is all sorts of varieties. E.g. I know a lecturer at Coventry’s City College who’s taking a course at Westwood to improve his teaching skills. Despite being a regular leisure cyclist I suspect he uses his car to access Warwick university.

    14 Nov 2009, 11:53

  10. Here’s some ideas about promoting cycling from Cycling England.

    17 Nov 2009, 18:19

  11. Andrew Marsh

    Some extremely useful materials there, thanks.

    17 Nov 2009, 21:13

  12. Sara Kalvala

    Andrew – thanks for the initiative in all this.

    One view of commuting which is not often made clear is that the individual choice of whether to cycle/walk/bus/drive need not be made as one big commitment but can be made on a daily bases, and the ideal may be not to try to make people abandon the car completely but on any particular day choose which is more convenient or economical. I assume most staff members at least have a car anyway, and don’t worry much about capital cost or depreciation.

    It is a shame that the University doesn’t encourage this gradual move from driving. There was mention in the summer that there would be a casual driving scheme which would allow discounted daily parking; this has not been made available for staff, so most people I know ended up buying a yearly permit, and once they have an yearly permit there is no economic incentive not to drive.

    While the bus pass may well be a good option for people who have committed to taking a bus, the daily ticket is so expensive that anyone who has a permit would be crazy to choose to take a bus instead of driving, and particularly when seeing the huge crowds waiting for buses at any point. Again, any chance of some scheme to subsidize bus tickets, maybe even some kind of 10-ticket booklets?

    Finally, there are probably many people who could cycle but don’t want to commit enough to actually buy a cycle before knowing if they would like it or not. The cyclecheme is great but requires making a long-term decision to buy. Is there any way that some cycles could be made available for renting, so that some sunny day in spring might inspire someone to try cycling for just a day or a week and get them to then think of buying? I often lend one of my cycles to colleagues, and am happy to lend to others if they want to try cycling for a day or two. Could some of the abandoned cycles be maintained and made available for overnight renting?

    Just some general thoughts, from someone who chooses almost on a daily basis on how to get to campus depending on weather conditions and time available.

    18 Nov 2009, 10:11

  13. Andrew Marsh


    I think your comments go to the heart of what the Transport Strategy Group is trying to grapple with. Changing what people do a little bit can make a significant impact for everyone.


    18 Nov 2009, 10:19

  14. I would love to cycle to Univ but I live in Radford and also have to drop off and pick up my kids from their school. No choice but to keep using my old Volvo.

    24 Nov 2009, 12:25

  15. How about putting a bicycle in the Volvo, parking the car at your kids’ school and cycling between there and campus?

    When your kids are old enough, you could cycle with them to school.

    Good exercise and save money!

    Cars cost about 20p/mile to run, bicycles about 3p. A good quality folding bike would pay for itself after 3500 miles – less than two years cycling between Radford & campus?

    24 Nov 2009, 20:04

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