Sustainable travel case studies

The University is committed to reducing the number of staff, students and visitors that travel to campus by single occupancy cars.  As a result we offer a wide range of incentives to our staff and students to make their travel more sustainable.  Below are a range of case studies of people who have benefitted from these schemes to travel more sustainably.  If you want more information on any of the schemes listed below please visit the Sustainable Travel homepage here or email sustainabletravel@contacts.bham.ac.uk 

Staff loan bikes

Andrew 1

Andrew works in the Business School and was a newcomer to Birmingham when he loaned a bike from the Universities Sustainable Travel Co-ordinator in March 2017.

How did you utilise the staff loan bike?

Never before would I have considered cycling as a viable and enjoyable means of commuting to and from work. I have also used it in every other element of my daily life – shopping, getting to the gym, and attending cultural activities such as the theatre, concerts, movies, gallery exhibitions and tours. It was also incredibly useful in getting from A to B faster than any alternative transport option would allow – no hassles with traffic, and lots of cycle routes to take advantage of. It was thus relied upon whenever I was in a rush, such as dashing from work to make the doctors appointment in time. I used it in the evening to cycle with friends for leisure and for exercise, and also to visit friends, go out for dinner or meet up for coffee. I used it almost every Saturday to cycle along the Canal into the Mailbox so that I could mill around and explore town, and I used it every Sunday to get to church and home again. 

Has loaning the bike made you more physically active?

The bike has certainly made me more physically active, and I have noticed a huge change in my physical strength and health, especially as someone who was previously very inactive. It also made me stop relying on public transport – so I got healthy, saved money, and got to know the geography of the area much better. I couldn’t have asked for more. 

After returning the bike will you continue to cycle?

It has inspired an awareness of sustainable and alternative transport methods, and as a result I shall now start investigating the bicycle salary sacrifice scheme that the university offers. I know for sure that I would not enjoy and could not survive life in Birmingham without a bicycle, and the healthy and outdoors lifestyle it affords. It has been an incredible privilege and benefit to my experience as a staff member of the University and new comer to the city, and I am forever grateful. It has also been such a wonderful story to tell when I would be asked how I came to have such a good quality bicycle so soon after arriving in Birmingham – and the responses were always a mixture of being impressed and slightly envious that such opportunities were not available to them. This is an incredible scheme and should definitely receive continuous support and development from the University.  

Cycle commuter

Neil-on-bike-rotate

Neil works in Security and has been commuting on his bike for the last 7 years from Sutton Coldfield.

Why do you choose to cycle to work?

 I really enjoy cycling, being outside even when the weathers bad –it’s a good way to de-stress after a busy day at work  and you feel much better when you get home

What are the main benefits of cycling to work?

 It’s a great way of keeping fit , both physically and mentally – plus is quicker than driving and far less stressful!

Do you have any tips for people in terms of cycling to work?  

  •  Make sure check your check bike over regularly so you can identify any faults or issues, to ensure you ride a well maintained bike.
  • Keep your tyres pumped up to the required pressure dependant on the weather and it always pays to pay a little more for decent tyres to avoid punctures!
  • Always have lights on your bike, as the weather may change quickly and you need to be seen – consider LED rechargeable- again go for a good brand and look for sales on line.
  •  Get a decent comfortable ruck sack and buy a high viz rain cover to keep the stuff dry inside.

Car sharing

JC works in Chemical Engineering and has been car sharing since November 2017.

Who do you car share with?

Our sharelift team has four people, who come from different departments across university. We didn’t know each other in the beginning, so we set up a week or two weeks trial to see how everyone gets on, and I found it was fantastic. Everybody is so friendly, arrive on time, good driving skills, it makes the journey to and from work fun and more sociable.

Was it easy to find somebody to share with on Liftshare?

I found it very easy to find the people to share with once I signed up for Liftshare.  Once I found a matching journey I simply sent a message via the website and they replied to me in a day.

What are the main advantages of car sharing?

I have found there are a number of advantages including reducing my impact on the environment, better for the car, helping to reduce the ongoing pressure on car parking and saving money (more than £100/month). In the past I need to fill up the fuel every week, and now I only need to fill the fuel up every 3-4 weeks.

Walking

JennyJenny works in Security and has been walking to the University since starting her role in 2017.

Why do you choose to walk to work?

I see walking to work as the least stressful way to get here compared to driving or cycling.  The exercise I get from walking means I don't have to do any cardio at the gym plus I get to listen to music or catch up with friends or family on the phone as I walk.

How far do you walk?

I live in Harborne so is about 1.5 miles each way.  If I rode a bike it would be a really quick journey and perhaps not as much exercise and driving would likely take longer than walking especially as I would then have to find somewhere to park.

What are the main advantages of walking to work?

I arrive at work feeling energised and in a nicer mood then if I had driven.  It also means I always reach my daily 10,000 steps! 

Staff loan bike and salary sacrifice cycle scheme

Zeinab with new bike

Zeinab started working in the Finance office at the University in February 2017.  As she lives around 4 miles from campus she was keen to try cycling to work but had no idea where to start.

How did you hear about the staff loan bike scheme?

I met Peter Edwards (Sustainable Travel Co-ordinator) at the central induction who mentioned the staff loan bikes and this seemed a perfect opportunity to try cycling without making a big financial commitment of my own.  I loaned the bike soon after the induction.  Peter also helped me with route planning and general advice around cycling.

What was your experience with the bike?

I tried to cycle most days to work and even managed to cycle during the cold winter months of November and December which I was very proud of.  I also used the loan bike at the weekends to cycle with my family in the park.

Have you continued to cycle after returning the loan bike?

After returning the bike so another member of staff could utilise it I was determined to buy my own so that I could continue cycling to work.  I have done this via the Universities 'Cycle to Work' scheme which means I can buy the bike via my salary to spread the cost and benefit from tax savings.  Andi at Urban Cycles in University Centre was incredibly helpful finding a bike to suit my needs and budget.

What are the main benefits you have discovered from cycling to work?

As a mother of two young children I don't have time to go to the gym but cycling to work helps keep me fit.  The other main benefit is the ability to beat the traffic and not having to look for a parking space when I arrive on campus.  In fact I park my bike right outside my office!  

Folding Brompton bikes for staff

People and Organisational Development (POD) have been trying out one of the University’s loan Brompton cycles since November last year. Based at the Park House Annexe on Edgbaston Park Road, we’re located in one of the more distant offices on the Edgbaston campus, and it can take up to 20 minutes to travel to buildings on the opposite side. The Brompton reduces the travel time to less than half that, including the time spent unfolding and folding the bike.

The bike has been used every other day by three of the POD Consultants  for short journeys to meetings and events elsewhere on campus.

Unfolding and folding the bike was a little bit daunting at the start, however with a bit of practice we can now fold the bike in under 30 seconds. Its small footprint when folded means that we can keep the Brompton unobtrusively in the corner of our busy office, where it is available on a first come, first served basis!

We can’t honestly say that having the bike has saved any car journeys since the typical journeys it has replaced would have previously been on foot. However the bike has definitely saved a significant amount of travel time and helped us feel closer to the campus.  We’d definitely recommend a pool Brompton where team members need to regularly travel to meetings across campus. 

Vince