Sustainable Commutes: University of Leeds Travel Survey Results

As part of our ongoing blog series for National Clean Air Day, Sustainability Project Officer Claire Booth discusses the University of Leeds Travel Survey results. You can read our previous blog entries here and here.

Every year, the University of Leeds undertakes a Travel Survey to provide a snapshot of how staff and students travel to campus. The results feed into our Sustainable Travel Plan, which helps us to achieve our aim to foster a student and staff body where sustainable travel is the norm, while reducing the associated negative impacts of travel such as congestion, carbon emissions and air pollution.  The results can also help us to assess the availability of workplace facilities, such as showers and cycle parking, and inform us of opportunities to make improvements and to better promote sustainable travel options.

Sustainable travel includes walking, cycling, car sharing or public transport. From the Travel Survey results conducted earlier this year, we discovered that over 75% of staff and an impressive 95% of students travel to the University in a sustainable way. That’s a really great result.

 

While over seventy percent of students walked or ran to the University as their main mode of transport (the main mode is the one they travel furthest by), only seventeen percent of staff commuted in the same way.  Between 5 and 10 percent responded that they cycled to work and a quarter of staff said that they drive into work.

The modes of travel that we choose to travel to and from the University have a direct impact on local air quality. Opting for a low or zero emission mode such as walking or cycling – or using mass transport such as bus, train or car sharing – reduces both the individual and collective impact of air pollution, and plays a part in improving air quality levels in the city.

Air pollution comes from a range of sources including transport. The main contributing pollutants from vehicle emissions are carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, hydrocarbons and lead. Each pollutant behaves differently and has varied effects on our health, which makes air quality is a complex issue to manage and control.

 

But we want to keep making improvements.  This is why we are offering a free breakfast for National Clean Air Day for all staff and students who travel sustainably.  Join us tomorrow outside the Student Union from 8.30am onwards and make your pledge this National Clean Air Day.

Tweet us your pledge @Uol_Sus.

For more information on the Leeds Living Lab for Air Quality, which is driving projects that limit exposure to poor air quality, visit: http://sustainability.leeds.ac.uk/the-living-lab/airquality/

 

 

 

Four Reasons to Leave the Car at Home

 

It’s time to keep the car in the garage.  It may seem convenient but what are the real consequences of taking your car to work?  Does your commute have a real impact on the air around the city? And are there any real benefits from taking public transportation? Here are 4 benefits of swapping the car for a train.

1: There’s Less Air Pollution

Being in such close contact with stop starting cars is a fast track way to take in air pollution, being in close contact with exhaust fumes, even inside a car risk those fumes entering your body. And not just through breathing.  Most Air Pollution can enter your body through your skin. The particles are that small.

Those who take public transport are less exposed to air pollution than those who take personal transport to work every day. This is in part due to the stop-starting cars from traffic in and around the city.  Choosing sustainable modes of transportation not only allows for cleaner air for the city but also for your lungs.

2: It’s Cost Effective


If you’re commuting from a distance it may be time to think about commuting by train to the city centre.  Not only will you save money by using less fuel, but you will also allow your car to have a longer life.  The more you use your car the more maintenance it requires.  This includes tyre replacement, oil refill, windscreen wash and these just the basics.  If you’re unlucky you could create serious wear on your car and need some severe maintenance work that could go into the hundreds.

By choosing public transportation it not only allows you to have spare cash at hand but also takes away the stress of daily car maintenance.   The worry of whether you have fuel in the car will be gone.  The only thing you’ll need to think about is what book you’ll be reading that day.

3: It Gives you Personal Time


If you have a long work day then it’s made even worse my commuting into the city centre through motorways and nonstop congestion. And being behind a wheel requires constant focus, attention and care.

Use that time on your commute instead to unwind, close your eyes and reflect on the day ahead or the day gone by. There’s an opportunity within that commute to shorten your work day by letting your brain unwind by switching off and recharging.  It not only improves overall wellbeing but gives you time to be in the moment and not worry about the world around you.

4: It’s Leisure Time

There may have been time when you can listen to the radio or listen to a podcast but not only is it sometimes difficult to hear what is said over the noise of the outside traffic but you will also find that you’re never truly focussed on what’s being said if your eyes are on the road.  Let alone how unsafe it is to have your attention elsewhere while driving.

You may be on your way to work but it doesn’t mean you need to be working.  That precious commute time you can have by leaving your car at home can be spent catching up on your favourite book, learning something new, or reading up on the daily news and events.

 

 

 

From Alberta to Leeds: A Clean Air Interview with Exchange Student Nick Tabler

What’s your background? What brings you to the University of Leeds?

I’m Nick Tabler I’m a student from the University of Alberta in Western Canada I’m here on a QES Scholarship working with Leeds Living Labs doing software development, centre calibration and designing air quality monitoring solutions.

My background is in Electrical Engineering.  I haven’t had much climate science background coming into this so for the first month I’ve been learning a lot from my colleagues of Earth and Environment.  I’ve always had an interest in hiking, mountaineering, being outside and the quality of ecosystems.

I’ve been working within the Sustainability environment industry and I’ve wanted to get a more academic experience so I’ve moved into the research side of things. As far as air quality goes it’s a much larger concern in England and it’s something that’s difficult to manage and difficult to quantify.

What are you working on at the University of Leeds?

I’m designing a couple of air quality monitoring systems that will go around campus.  These are black box solutions that we will be putting nearby the motorways and around campus as well as a forest reserve south of Leeds. I’m working between that as well as air quality monitoring walks, managing volunteers. Collecting data and transferring it to our website as well as enhancing our website so people can see what air quality is like around campus.

We have a consistent walk engaging volunteers around campus, various staff groups, and student groups as well as trying to engage students who can find the data to see what the air quality is like over time. These Air quality walks are an initiative by the Leeds Living Lab Project to monitor air quality throughout 12 months starting from November/December and then moving up to November/December 2018.  It provides a data set that we can give to planning and operations to help engage their air quality strategy.

How would you compare the Leeds and Alberta?

Compared to Alberta I find Leeds is a lot more condensed. You get a lot of different air quality concerns that you wouldn’t get back in Alberta. I would say the density is much higher so you get a lot more traffic and a lot more slow traffic on motorways.  So that can result in a lot more diesel cars, I find that it’s a lot smoggy here. So it’s more noticeable. On some days it’s difficult to quantify on just a sensory basis. It’s something that has to be more experienced through sensors and monitors. It seems more people are concerned about Air Quality here than Alberta.

I think there’s something to be learned from Leeds to take back to Alberta. From what I’ve seen working with Sustainability on campus. There are a lot more initiatives here as far as biodiversity as well as data monitoring through the city. I think that’s something I’ll be taking back to Alberta.  Valuing biodiversity and monitoring on campus to the best of my knowledge I don’t see as many projects or outreaches are not quite there.  And that is well something that I find in Leeds. Think there’s a lot of different concerns that make it difficult for me to say one thing or another to compare both Alberta and Leeds, as far as land preservation, it’s a different specialality. It’s more condensed, less area here than there is in Canada so there are different solutions that have to be considered.

It’s National Clean Air Day on the 21st June. What’s your Clean Air Day pledge?

For National Clean Air Day 2018 I’m trying to rely on walking and cycling rather than using public transportation. Because public transport is substantially better than driving a single car but cycling would still be better!

Moving Out Checklist

End of year can be a hectic time for students. As soon as you have completed your last exam you are only a matter of weeks away to when you need to have packed up your things and move on to a new tenancy. Before you thoughts turn to taking time off, having a holiday and seeing family, take a little time to prepare for your move and save yourself some money and hassle in the process! Here are our top tips to help with taking the stress out moving house.

1. Recycle your empties

Been hoarding glass in your garden with the intention of recycling it?   Put those good intentions in to practice and take your glass to your nearest bottle bank. (No you can’t put them in your green bin!) Download the Leeds Bins app to find your nearest. https://datamillnorth.org/products/leeds-bins/

2.  Leave only empty cupboards behind

Check if you need to buy any more food.  Use up what you have stored away in the cupboards and freezer before buying any more. If you have any food leftover at the end of year, call around to your neighbours and see if they would like it or drop off any none perishable food at one of the city’s collection points. See the Council’s Moving Out? webpage for details of where you can find your nearest. https://www.leeds.gov.uk/residents/bins-and-recycling/moving-out

3. Who does all this stuff belong to?

Starting to regret not having done any cleaning this year? To have any chance of getting your deposit back it’s time for everyone to muck in and get things sorted.  Work out a plan with your housemates how you will  divide up the tasks, sort out who owns what and clean communal areas.  That includes your garden and outside spaces!  Its a good idea to agree a day that you can all get together and clean up before everyone starts disappearing.

4. Make some extra cash for the summer

Sell your unwanted textbooks, clothes, electricals and media and get some extra cash for the summer. See our Living in Leeds Guide for more information. http://sustainability.leeds.ac.uk/being-a-positive-partner-in-society/your-community/

5. Don’t Throw It Give It and Leave Leeds Tidy 

Consider donating your unwanted stuff instead of throwing it away. Each year an extra 360 tonnes of waste is thrown away when student move out of their accommodation. Drop off any unwanted  at one of the end of year collections running in residencies, the local community and campus.  You can drop of any furniture, clothes, kitchen goods, electricals, non perishable food and anything else that you no longer need! Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for updates on collections near you (#ASmoothMove) or visit the Council’s Moving Out? webpage.  https://www.leeds.gov.uk/residents/bins-and-recycling/moving-out

6. Take meter readings

A few weeks before you move out, contact the utility companies and let them know that you will be closing the account soon. On you final day take your meter readings, inform the companies to close your account and give them a forwarding address to send the bill. Do keep a record of the meter readings. Once paid make sure you send proof to the landlord/agent. 

7. Protect your ID

Shred any documentation with your personal details on it. Identity thieves are known to go looking through bins as well as looking for any opportunistic open doors and windows to help themselves to your laptop.  It’s also not a good idea to store all of your possessions in a car overnight as it will get broken in to!

8. Get out and see Leeds 

It’s not too late take advantage of your free time in Leeds to go to one of city’s many great summer festivals and attractions. Looking for ideas on what you can do? Check out the following link which lists what’s going on! https://confidentials.com/leeds/things-to-do

9. Rate your landlord

Tell other students of your renting experiences this year through Rate Your Landlord.  This is your chance to have a say about your landlord and pass on those views to benefit future tenants! If you’ve had a great experience let other students know.  If the year has been poor, then this is your chance to tell other students that another choice would be a good idea! https://www.rateyourlandlord.org.uk/rate/

 

 

 

 

 

 

My End of Year Retrospective of Hyde Park

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Sue Buckle, long term resident of Hyde Park shares her thoughts about the end of term, students departure and how students are viewed by permanent residents.

It’s that time of year again- gardens are lovely with spring blossom and on pavements, black bags overflowing with clothes charity shops would be glad of. The universities terms are nearly over and soon our student neighbours will be on the move.

It’s sad to say goodbye to the students who’ve become friends, even though we’ve never had the promised coffee or drink together due to busy lives.  My immediate neighbours have been great, considerate and friendly, and I wish they were staying another year. The ones on the street who’ve woken people up after midnight with loud, shrieking discussions about who’s going in which taxi or who’ve resolutely refused/forgotten to put their bins back in gardens- we can live without!

So far, Bank Holiday Monday, it’s been pretty quiet with only a few occasional loud boozey voices late at nights. We empathise with the euphoria of ending exams, but if only the lucky ones would remember the poor souls still revising for their exams. Local school children are still revising for their GCSE and A-level exams. Friends from a neighbouring street report “bearable noise” so far, but are bracing themselves for the next few weeks. Even the benefits of Hyde Park Christmas- the piles of discarded clothes, furniture, household items and food- don’t make up for the misery of sleep deprivation. Especially when you have an early start the next day or been told “This is a student area. Why don’t you move?”

Going back to bins- yesterday, walking up Victoria Road with my two adult daughters visiting their old home for the weekend, we had to step around the mess from bins overturned by we assume bladdered idiots on their way home. Festering rubbish including so much discarded food all over the pavement! This morning, three Council staff were picking up and bagging every smelly item- at a cost to the cash strapped Council! In a queue at the Cardigan Road Co-Op recently a friend overheard two students discussion on what a trash heap Hyde Park was. O the irony….

BUT, coming up my street today I chatted to some students who are staying next year, all done with exams apart from one. They’re keeping our recent street-flyer and will be following our tips to pass on their edible food to our Real Junk Food Project down at All Hallows Church, plus any other unwanted stuff which is reusable or recyclable.

When its near to the end of June, my washing machine will be on most days with binned clothes to pass on to charity shops and the South Headingley Community Association table top stall at Kirkstall Festival and Unity Day will benefit from all the stuff that students or their parents cars can’t fit in. Hopefully these will come straight to me, rather than via the bins!

Then it’s a peaceful summer with those of us whose home is here getting the chance to know better the students here over the summer- before October, and another 200+ new neighbours to try to get to know and welcome to the Hyde Park community!

The Hidden Cost of a Party

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Creating noise nuisance can not only lead to hefty Council fines and a disciplinary from your institution but it could also be costly in repairing any damage to the property you rent if you hold parties. With the use of social media it’s now easier than ever to spread the word about a party you’re hosting and you risk dozens of strangers turning up and attracting the wrong crowd who won’t respect you, your property or your belongings. Once a large crowd gathers it is very difficult to disperse everyone and as a tenant you will remain liable for any damage caused by the guests- even if you did not know them.  Remember, you are not only paying for the repair itself but also the contractors time which can be very expensive- some examples of costs to expect would be;

Filling and painting over one damaged wall; £60 plus

New carpets; £500 plus

Professional clean; £50 plus

Replacing a broken sofa; £450 plus

If you are not towards the end of your tenancy your landlord can demand you pay for these costs straight away and if it is towards the end of your tenancy you risk losing your deposit altogether and being taken to court for any remaining charges.

It is very common for landlords to request references before allowing you to sign a new contract- remember to bare this in mind because even after you have paid for the damaged property your landlord would still have to be honest when asked if they would consider you a trustworthy tenant.  Some landlords require references from the previous five years so this could have a major impact on you for a long time to come.

Studying is very hard work and it is expected you balance this with a good social life but if you have friends around remember to limit the number you invite and only invite people you trust.  Speak to your neighbours and let them know to contact you if they are disturbed by noise from your property. Leeds offers a wide range of bars, pubs and clubs and it is a much better idea to go to these for a party rather than risking the consequences noise nuisance can bring.

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What I’m Doing To Celebrate End of Term

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The end of exams is a fun time for everyone.  It can often be a shock to the system for students to adapt to the sight of an empty Terrace pint glass instead of a library book. This transition results in a much needed ‘end of exams blowout’. The end of exam period not only benefits students in a positive way, it also affects University staff, lecturers in particular who are excited to see the end of rows of slumped heads and subtle texting in Roger Stevens on a Friday afternoon. A lot of local businesses also thrive from these festivities, especially those situated near the Otley Road region… What I’m trying to say is that students are not the only groups of people benefiting at this time of year.

Alongside hours of partying, noise complaints are also inevitable. Leeds has a very high population density, especially in the inner city which means that noise travels far. Even if you let your immediate neighbours aware of a party, it is still possible that people a few roads away can still be affected. I’ve heard lots of stories about parties getting out of hand, resulting in people’s possessions being stolen. Not only do I live in an area surrounded by families, we are unable to lock the doors of our bedrooms from the outside. This worries me that my valuables may be at risk if I was to throw a party, and so as a result, myself and my housemates have looked into other ways of celebrating this end of term.

To celebrate my end of year,  I’ll be going to Inner City Electronic (2nd June). More than 80 artists will be performing at 11 different venues across the city in a celebration of electronic music.  It’s not just about having a party. There will be feature talks, workshops, art and exhibitions. Afterwards we’ll probably head home to relax. 18 hours of partying in town is enough for one weekend!

Looking for ideas on what you can do? Check out the following link which lists what’s going on! https://confidentials.com/leeds/things-to-do

Myth Busting the House Party

My top tip to any student thinking of holding a house party is to think carefully whether you are likely to cause any offence or nuisance to those living around you- remember loud music can travel some distance and will affect more than your immediate neighbours.   

I’ve heard many DIY solutions that students have tried in the past to try and prevent the noise from the DJ’s and professional sound systems being heard. No amount of cardboard or mattresses pressed against windows will prevent your neighbours from hearing exactly what is going on! Especially if your guest list extends to 100+ people who will be in and out of your property and causing a disturbance as they make their way home through the neighbourhood in the early hours. And of course, I wouldn’t have this knowledge if it wasn’t for the University receiving numerous complaints about noise and having to speak to the students involved.

Here are a few more common misconceptions about house parties that I have come across.

1. The noise has to exceed a certain decibel level for action to be taken. NOT TRUE! A sound meter isn’t even used. The University and Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team make an assessment based on who your neighbours are and how noise is impacts on the wellbeing of your neighbours.

2. Action can only be taken over noise that happens at night.  NOT TRUE! Noise is more of a problem for people after 11pm but action can be taken for noise at any time. Even at low levels if you have a neighbour that is more sensitive to noise, such as an elderly neighbour.

3. If I can hear the noise, investigators can take action. TRUE! If the noise is audible outside of your house, there is a good chance it’s loud enough to cause a problem for your neighbours.  Turn the volume down!

4. Having Bouncers will limit the number of people crashing your party and prevent problems with your neighbours. NOT TRUE! Bouncers are more likely to scare off your neighbours when they call around to let you know there is a problem.  Being able to speak to your neighbours direct about any issues as they arise is a far better way of dealing and resolving disputes. Disciplinary and enforcement action is a far worse consequence of making a mistake than having to apologise to the people living next door.

5. If you create excessive noise you are breaking the law. TRUE! Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team can take enforcement action that includes the confiscation of equipment, house closure notices, fines and a criminal conviction.

6. If I let my neighbours know that I’m having a party then no action can be taken. NOT TRUE! I would always advise that you speak with your neighbours in advance of having your friends over and share your contact details. However, residential streets are no place for a party that continues past midnight and has over 30 guests at any time!  Your neighbours are still likely to make a complaint if your event is too big, too loud and goes on too late.

7. Its my birthday, a one off party isn’t going to hurt anyone. NOT TRUE! If every student has a house party for their birthday then that means  a lot of parties and a lot of lost sleep! Take your celebrations in to town or book a venue to hold your party.

8. Hyde Park is a student area, its okay to have house parties. NOT TRUE! Hyde Park is home to many different residents. No street is completely student only. We also receive as many complaint from students as other residents about house parties!

9. I moved into a property next to a noisy neighbour so I guess I have to put up with it. NOT TRUE! Let us know if you are experiencing a problem through our Helpline. You may not be the only person affected by the noise!

10. I can’t have my friends over at any time as my neighbours will complaint. NOT TRUE! No one is likely to object to your having your friends over if you do so in a reasonable way. Would you really like to live next door to a party animal if you had to be up for work or lectures at 9am?

For information on the University’s procedures in handling off-campus issues see my earlier Blog for details on the joint action being taken by the Council and Police to tackle noisy parties.

Why Being Noisy Can Land You In Trouble

Noise from celebratory parties is a particular issue in local communities at this time of year. Whilst the University appreciates that students will want to enjoy and celebrate the end of their exams, this should be done in a  way that does not cause distress and disturb nearby residents. The University and Leeds Antisocial behaviour Team have implemented procedures to respond to noisy parties and ensure that everyone is able to enjoy their home without being upset by the actions of others.

How is Noise Nuisance Dealt with?

Noise nuisance has a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of those affected. Many factors effect this; frequency, time of day, location, duration and how many people are effected. It is a statutory nuisance at any time, day or night. Noise nuisance is a criminal offence and enforcement action can be taken by the Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team against any household which is causing a nuisance.  This could result in a criminal conviction, confiscation of any noise-making equipment, issue a closure order/notice on a property and impose financial penalties.

The Police may take action with respect to any crime and disorder. The team will be providing additional  out of hours patrols in the local area up to the end of June to respond directly to complaints of noise.

The University may also take disciplinary against students whom behave in a way which persistently causes distress to their neighbours and brings into question the reputation of the university. For the University’s procedures see the Neighbourhood Helpline Code.

Tips to Avoid Noise Complaints Being Made Against You

  • Noise can be a statutory nuisance at any time but the hours between 11pm and 8am are particularly noise sensitive. Please be more aware during these times.
  • Regular late-night disturbances, even at weekends, are likely to result in complaints.
  • As a matter of courtesy call around to your neighbours in advance of a party to let them know and agree on an end time.
  • Keeping doors and windows closed, especially in warm weather, will help to limit noise levels.
  • If you or any guests are outside (e.g. having a BBQ, playing sports in the street, smoking or waiting for taxis) please keep the volume to a minimum. Keep equipment away from adjoining walls and raised off the floor.
  • If you play a musical instrument, speak to your housemates and neighbours and agree a time that you can practice without disturbing them or book rehearsal rooms.
  • If you do get a visit from a neighbour, Police or Council Officer, remain calm and polite.

For practical tips and advice on how to avoid causing any problems for your neighbours and to avoid enforcement action, take a look at the Living in Leeds Guide.

Are your noisy neighbours keeping you awake at night?

If you home life or studies are being affected by a noisy neighbour, help is at hand to get you a good night’s sleep.  The University is working with Leeds City Council’s Antisocial Behaviour Team and the other universities and colleges in the City to minimise noise nuisance in local communities. Whether the noise is a one-off, a regular occurrence, during the day or an evening, you can receive help by reporting the nuisance to the services detailed below. For practical tips on parties to avoid causing any problems for your neighbours and enforcement action, take a look at our Students in Communities webpages. 

Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team

Statutory noise nuisance is investigated by Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team.  They can be contacted through the following.

Noise that happens during the day:
Complete the online form or call the team on 0113 222 4402, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Noise that happens at night or at weekends/bank holidays:
The Council operates a night-time response service in partnership with West Yorkshire Police. If the problem is noise outside of office hours, please ring 0113 376 0337. This is available from 6pm to 3:30am. Noise at night-time should only be reported when the noise is occurring. The service availability is subject to demand and although they may not be able to stop the noise for you, they may provide further evidence to back up your allegations.

Universities and Colleges Neighbourhood Helpline

The Helpline is a 24-hour dedicated voicemail and email service operated by the University of Leeds in partnership with Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Trinity University College, Leeds City College and Leeds College of Music.   The Helpline is a service for all members of the local community to help resolve any neighbourhood problems involving our students and to build better relationships between neighbours.

Get in touch with us if your are experiencing any problem with your student neighbours. We can work with you and prevent this from becoming a recurring issueContact Us: by telephone (24hr voicemail service): 0113 343 1064, by Email:  neighbourhood.helpline@leeds.ac.uk , or complete our online form.