5 posts / 0 new
Last post

As some of you may already be aware, I am now a student at UWE, which is in Britain’s first “cycling city” (although technically the main Frenchay campus where I live is in South Gloucestershire). I am on the Architecture & Planning course which is AFAIK unique as a dual honours degree, so I have lots of lectures on things like “Making Places” and “Economy, Society and the Built Environment”, as well as lots of time to look at mistakes like the Temple Way Underpass – a perfectly good grade separated interchange (in engineering terms) in a completely inappropriate location (next to offices and pubs).

Aside from academic considerations of urban planning and transport, there is the issue of how students actually convey themselves. I am fortunate to be on campus, and I also get a free bus pass for trips into the city centre or to the other campuses, but other journeys can be a struggle. There is a Sainsburys within walking distance, but walking any distance with a crate of 20 cans of Strongbow and two large shopping bags (filled with Basics cheese and tomato pizzas) is a struggle which required a mid afternoon nap. A bicycle with rack and panniers would make the shopping trip much easier. [This is an appeal to any Bristol based members!]

The ability / willingness / competence of educational establishments (as opposed to local authorities) in cycling matters is often doubtful – from my bedroom window in my university halls, I can see a cycle lane. Surely I would be riding up and down it randomly in joy (if I had actually bothered to take a bike with me or buy one)? Well, no, because:

  • The cycle lane is so narrow, the cycle symbols straddle the double yellow lines and still manage to touch the dashed line at the edge of the cycle lane.
  • The remaining traffic lane is barely wide enough for a Ford Transit.
  • There is a roundal painted on the road with “5” in the middle. If vehicles were actually travelling this slowly, even a properly constructed cycle lane would be pointless because this is a no through road leading to the sports centre – the staff parking and bus stops are elsewhere.
    Now, this was probably “designed” by the university itself, which is an educational establishment and not a conglomerate of traffic engineers. It nonetheless demonstrates poor design skills which were probably inspired by some local examples on public roads. I understand that even at smaller sites which don’t have private roads within, incompetence can be demonstrated with the poor installation of parking facilities, which I haven’t had a reason to check out due to not having a working bicycle to bring with me* [repeats appeal for a cheap bicycle].

Most people my age are not terribly interested in transport, but they are important end users. A lot of my friends can drive, but some of those who had cars at sixth form have sold them before going to university. It is worth pointing out that at UWE, students in halls are not allowed cars, but on the Frenchay campus there are over 20 numbered car parks and I have met students who commute daily from as far away as Cardiff.

Students are price concious – the cost of public transport is usually regarded as excessive, but not as much as taxis (which are usually only ever used by students to get home from a nightclub at 4am). Car insurance is also derided as excessive, but unfortunately reflective of the risk of damage or injury as I know quite a few people who have written off their cars driving into ditches / bollards / wild animals, and one girl at sixth form who I had barely heard of drove into an elderly man on North Street in Guildford.

Some of my friends are fortunate to have an alternate perspective. I was very surprised to find out that one of my friends who had left a private day school in Guildford and was going to the University of Bristol had lived in Wassenaar, a town near The Hague where I have been on holiday! He described Leiden as being the busiest place he had ever cycled, while I took the chance to point out the inadequate cycle lane on the A3100 south of Guildford (this is despite it being 2:45 am at the time, with us walking home to avoid those expensive taxis). So while this was not on the “Situations Vacant” page, does anyone think having a student post of some description would be a good idea?


This may sound a bit radical but…….


I should perhaps point out that whilst the location of the Frenchay Campus is obviously intended to be well serviced by the car (the posters I have seen for the Exhibition and Conference Centre boast of the easy connections with the M4, M5, and M32) within the Planning and Architecture department there would appear to be a good level of environmental conscience. I had the first lecture of my “Environmental Science and Materials” module today; while this introductory lecture didn’t really consider transport, our course leader managed to tell us that there were building standards regarding energy efficiency; and she even managed to diss the ConDem’s new planning regulations regarding green belt land.

I assume Tom Bailey is suggesting that the administrations in Bristol and/or South Gloucestershire consist of men in their fourties and fifties who got driven around in their father’s Ford Capris. If they were really fly, it would come with a car phone in the dashboard. Having said that I have no idea what the party political or demographic composition of the local councils are, all I know is that I recognise some of these places. Also, Bond Street (at the junction by Cabot Circus) has the hugest and most ridiculous ASZ ever.


The other members may be pleased to know that as of about two hours ago I have successfully purchased a bicycle, a classic single speed Batavus for the very reasonable sum of £110, complete with rack, mudguards, partial chain guard and a (not working) dynamo. Back to the overall student theme, I’m kind of struggling to think of more ideas, although I got a copy of “Traffic in Towns” from the library which I might read at some point.


Leiden was certainly very, very busy when I was there just recently. It still had far better provision for cycling than UK, even though not up to the standards seen in blog posts about Assen. The main path from Wassenaar to Leiden was great (except for the mopeds), but the centre quite chaotic.

(Really enjoyed LF1 rolling over the Duins)

Log in or register to post comments