Leave the car home, bike to uni instead

Travelling by cycle in becoming very popular in the capitals of the world, in cities such as Paris or London. Lately, in Coventry one can see more and more students choosing to use bicycles to travel to lectures, and more cycle stands are being used for bike parking in front of University building.

 Is this a sign that Coventry is changing into a more environmental friendly city? Travelling by bike instead of taking a car is more environmental friendly, as it releases no CO2 into the atmosphere. It can also have a great impact on your health.

Elise Smithson, Deputy Director of Environment and Low Impact Buildings at Coventry University explains that: “Coventry University fully supports student cycling and has hoop facilities at most buildings. It is fortunate that the City Council also strongly support cycling, so for instance all around our new student Hub building are many new cycle stands. Other facilities include lockable facilities and lockers in some locations that have only a fully refundable deposit in order to use. ”

But Coventry city-centry doesn’t look that prepared to handle cycle traffic yet. There aren’t many bike lines and I’m not sure how safe it is to bike in the middle of traffic. George Rippon, master student at Coventry University tells me he rides his bike very frequently in town, about 4 to 5 times a week, mainly for commuting but also for fun and exercise, taking trips and days out riding when he can.

Written by Diana Popovici

“I feel safe biking on most roads without bike lanes – this is because of my experience and confidence as a cyclist.” he says. I use the pavement in and around the city centre, but only so that I can join and leave bike lanes without doing something dangerous (bike lanes tend to start and stop in the middle of nowhere). The rest of time I will always use the road.”

He is concerned with improving the facilities, as everyone can see, the centre is far from being a perfectly safe for bikers:  “Think rather than spending more money and resources on improving the infrastructure (which is often just confusing to people), the emphasis should be on education to both cyclists and drivers. If this education were to happen, cycling on roads could be safer, cyclists would then be more encouraged to do so, and there would then be less need for bike lanes. ”

Catalin Razlet, a Music Performance student recently bought a bike off one of his friends. “I love to bike around, he told me, I take my bike everywhere: to lectures, to the library, to band rehearsals. I don’t think it’s unsafe to bike on the roads, Coventry isn’t that big after all and the traffic is quiet. I never had any problems. I am very pleased with the facilities available for bikes in the city, I am able to leave my bike anywhere I want and that is very convenient.”

Ellie Smithson explains that student views are taken into account and they are trying to improve things:”We seek student and staff feedback on facilities through travel surveys, and the latest one will be conducted in a few weeks. Every year awareness is raised on cycle safety through a Cycle Watch campaign which includes giving away free D locks to help improve security.”

Coventry’s city council is also doing their bit in raising awareness about the benefits of cycling as they work closely with Bike It charity.

The Bike It project works directly with schools making the case for cycling in their school travel plans, supporting school champions who want to promote cycling and demonstrating that cycling is a popular choice for children to get to school. The project adds to local investment in cycle routes and bike sheds by involving children, teachers and parents and enabling them to take the small steps that are necessary to make a real difference. Bike It leaves each school with the necessary resources to continue growing the cycling culture in subsequent years.

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