University plans to treble cyclist numbers... to 60 staff and students out of 3,600

But University of Cumbria's travel plan also foresees 5% rise in car passangers

by Simon_MacMichael   December 17, 2009  

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The University of Cumbria plans to treble the number of people using bicycles to get to its Lancaster campus, according to a report in the Lancaster Guardian.

But with just 20 people currently cycling there – out of a student body of 3,000 and more than 600 staff - that would see just 40 more people take to two wheels, leading to the institution being described as “extremely unadventurous” by John Leach of local cycling campaign group, Dynamo.

Lancaster has benefited from more than £2 million investment from Cycling England over the past four years due to its status as a Cycling Demonstration town, but none of that investment has been spent on facilities at the University of Cumbria.

Last week, the university unveiled its new travel plan, including research that found that 49% of its staff and 41% of students lived no more than five miles away from the campus.

Despite that finding, which suggest that many are within daily cycle commuting range, the university, which is reported to have been involved in an ongoing dispute with local residents over staff and students parking in nearby streets, has applied to the city council to extend permission for an for an existing temporary car park on site, which has 183 spaces.

Although the travel plan envisages a reduction in total car parking spaces offered from 596 to 563 and calls for a 5% increase in use of public transport, it also outlines a similar rise in car passenger numbers.

Ian Rodham, travel plan co-ordinator at the university, told the Lancaster Guardian: "We deliberately haven't set a target to reduce the number of cars coming onto the campus because we want people to park here, not in surrounding residential streets.

"One thing we've done is to promote the availability of parking at Williamson Park, which now only costs £25 per year for a permit. We're getting close to doubling applications this year."

Given that Lancester is one of England’s Cycling Towns, though, it does seem surprising that greater efforts aren’t being made to encourage increased bicycle usage, all the more so with figures from nearby Lancaster University showing that 13.1% - almost one in seven – of its staff cycle to work daily.

Lancaster City Council, meanwhile, has recently received a further £40,000 from Cycling England to provide a bike hire scheme for the city’s students as well as secure bike storage facilities, due to be in place by June next year.