Are our Universities sustainable? More importantly, are our universities promoting sustainable travel? With transport becoming the most polluting sector in the United Kingdom it’s important we look to our universities to see if they are doing everything in their power to encourage sustainable travel with their students.
Looking locally, the University of Gloucestershire seems to be leading the way in sustainable travel. In 2019 they became the UK’s most sustainable university in the People and Planet League. They’ve recently released their ambitions to cut carbon emissions and create a carbon-neutral university by 2030. This effort in sustainability can be shown with their 90/100 in ‘ambitions in sustainability’ from Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS UK).
To give us a more direct view of how the University of Gloucestershire plans to increase sustainability in travel, the operations manager for the Sustainability Team at the University of Gloucestershire Dr Jon Furely gives us a look into the universities plans with travel and transport.
Jon has shared the exciting news that there is a possibility there will be some new electric car charging points coming to more campuses. At the moment the only campus that has access to these charging points are the students who attend the Oxstalls Campus.
“We just got a quote from a company to do electric charging points at Park, FCH and Hardwick.”
Jon shares that although a quote has been given it all relies on future funds.
“We’ve got that plan we just need the cash to put it forward“
Alongside possible electric charging points for cars, Jon has also shared the new release of bus prices. With a simple flash of your student card, you can receive special student deals to make catching buses a great deal easier. For example, The Unirider 1 Week ticket, is just 13.50 and offers unlimited travel within 7 consecutive days. Jon explains how it’s ‘cheaper than it was last year’ and helps encourage students to take the more sustainable way of travelling.
Jon also mentions how small things such as giving out umbrellas, creating bike space and encouraging walking helps narrow down the usage of cars and is something they plan on doing in the following years.
Jon also briefly mentioned Dr Bike. A company that predominantly travels around universities to assist students by fixing their bikes and doing general safety checks. He’s next due for a visit at the Pittville Student Village on the 27th of October. Jon spoke of how Dr Bike helps students ‘financially but also helps ‘engage’ them into riding their bikes more often.
When I asked my Instagram followers how universities could help promote sustainable ways of travelling, the praise of Dr Bike continues.
Student Charlotte Fogwill who attends the University of East Anglia speaks highly of her universities sustainability.
‘What my uni does is really good, it’s a low emission zone around campus e.g no private cars/limited parking’
As well as the infamous Dr Bike visiting the campuses from time to time, UEA has loads of bike sheds and a station to get bikes noted by the police if stolen. UEA gives students a code to give them 200 free rides on bikes and there is a bike lane all the way into the city.
Other students replied to my Instagram story requesting the universities make less sustainable options less accessible. That things like carpool systems, vouchers for public transport and different types of public transport would help universities be more environmentally friendly.
When I asked my Instagram followers whether they believed their university promoted sustainable travel, only 60% said yes.
A transport type notorious among students is the electric scooter ‘Zwings’. When talking to Ollie Hazel the Active Travel and Cycling Coordinator of the Gloucestershire County Council, he revealed that the electric scooter is meant to be a substitute for short car journeys.
The low carbon form of transport arrived on our streets in September 2020 and is scheduled to continue until March 2022.
The Univerity of Gloucestershire supports this use of transport by allowing it to be located on their campuses and Student Villages.
Zwings is a great substitute for cars but many don’t see it this way, finding it a nuisance.
Whether it’s increasing bike lanes, electric scooters or just encouraging students to walk, universities such as the University of Gloucestershire seem to be doing their bit in the fight into making a more sustainable future.