E-Bikes – Available Now!

Commuting by bike? Thinking about it? Why not try an electric bike?

Mike Howroyd, from the Sustainability Services, faces a challenging commute from Holmfirth, which is 25 miles away from the University campus! He has explored all public transport options but the distance, cost and childcare duties made this unsuitable so he has spent the last 9 years commuting to the University by car.   

Last year Mike wanted to make a change to his usual habits as he explains: “three of my friends were diagnosed with cancer, which prompted me to look at my exercise habits and encouraged me to take better care of my health.” 25 miles is too far on a conventional bike and Mike discovered one of his colleagues was selling their electric bike, so he started thinking about leaving the car at home. “It was mostly a question of health: I wanted to get more exercise but didn’t want it eating into family time, so using my commute to be more active just made sense.” Having never commuted to work on a bike due to distance he wanted a realistic goal for himself, so committed to cycling in for 2 days a week.

 

Mike started riding in Staff Healthy Week 2018 “ It was hard work at first, but as I got fitter, I used  the electric assistance less and less.” Mike explains how the technology has improved in recent years and he notices a considerable difference from the older e-bikes he’s tried in the past “the electric assistance mimics the rider’s natural effort and pedalling motion, so it doesn’t feel that different from a conventional bike. It gives you just the right amount of help, especially for the last few miles.”

Mike was initially concerned about traffic and cycling provisions on the roads so went to his colleagues at the University Bike Hub, who helped him find a suitable route and kitted him out with lights and protective clothing. “My confidence quickly grew by cycling on the roads, I don’t take risks and I’m happy to get off and cross on foot when required.” Mike also visits the team of mechanics and volunteers down at the Hub who help him maintain his e-bike.

Although Mike cycles a little less during winter, he concludes: “The benefits of riding an electric bike are obvious: I am less dependent on traffic or fuel prices, I am getting some fresh air, so my well-being has improved, and most importantly, I am healthier than I was.”

 

Mike would encourage others to think about using an electric bike or even give it a go! Members of staff can hire e-bikes from the Bike Hub for just £20 a month to discover the benefits for themselves. The four e-bikes were purchased last year after the University received funding from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. This was part of the Gold Standard Bike Friendly Business accreditation, which the University received in 2017, for the initiatives and support it provides to help staff cycle to work.

For more information on e-bikes, please visit the Bike Hub (between Roger Stevens and EC Stoner, open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between 12 noon and 16:00), or email transport@leeds.ac.uk.

Student Sustainability Architects Update

This year’s Student Sustainability Architects are all well underway with their projects. Find out what they’ve been up to below:

Katy

Hi, I’m Katy, the Student Sustainability Architect for the Catering Service, and I’m delivering a project aimed at reducing staff and student meat consumption in the Refectory. I’m now five months into my role and am loving it! For a number of years I’ve had a personal interest in how individual food choices can have an impact on the environment, so being able to run a project so focussed around something I am passionate about is great. So far I’ve undertaken some surveys looking at the staff/student view of the current meat-free meals in the Refectory, finding that while Refectory does provide many meat-free options, there are a number of ways we can increase the number of customers who choose these options. I have drafted a communications plan and I am in the process of delivering a social media campaign aimed at meeting this goal. Hopefully, by the end of my term, more customers will be aware of, and will choose the meat-free options when eating in the Refectory!

Lulu

It seems not too long ago I started my work as the Student Citizenship sustainability architect.  In the beginning, the areas I wanted to explore revolved around getting students to engage with sustainability in a way they may not have previously. This still holds true today, but I have found my ideas have narrowed down. So far, my projects are evolving steadily and will hopefully make a positive impact on campus and in the local area.

The process has been fulfilling, challenging and enjoyable.  In the coming weeks, I am working on opening a discussion on the issues of plastic consumption. This event will be part of the Sustainability Conference Fringe events. I hope this event will facilitate discussions towards our interactions with consumption and the road towards being single-use plastic free by 2023.  Other projects planned this year will include tackling consumption in clothing and promoting a clean local environment through cleanups. The main plan is to enable students’ engagement and citizenship towards sustainability in their daily lives and the local community. I look forward to planning and implementing these projects as they continue.

Nicola

Hi Everyone. I’m Nicola, a final year PhD student studying Bioenergy in the School of Chemical and Process Engineering. This year I have been working as one of the Student Sustainability Architects where I am working to reduce waste in the University Halls of Residence.

So far I have helped to re-establish food waste recycling in flats at Devonshire Hall. Food waste that is collected is taken to an anaerobic digestion plant in Wakefield where it is used to produce bioenergy to power local homes and businesses. Approximately two-thirds of flats have chosen to have a food waste recycling bin put in their flat and we have already seen an increase in the amount of food waste collected.

I am also working with students to help reduce the amount of waste produced. This includes encouraging everyone to recycle as much as possible, donate spare belongings and look in charity shops for things that you need rather than buying everything new – this also saves you a lot of money! On the 30th September, The British Heart Foundation will be coming to campus (outside the Union building) to hold a pop-up shop where you can grab a bargain and buy all those things you may have forgotten to bring to university. Please come along!

If you live off campus and are not sure about what can be recycled in your area take a look at the Leeds City Council Page here – there is probably more than you thought!

Dave

Hello, I’m David and I have been working on the new SINGLE OUT pledge by the university to phase out single-use plastic by 2023. This is a huge task as plastic is used almost everywhere and so initially my main aim has been to work out what and where single-use plastic is used on campus. We have three areas that we are focusing on; labs, catering and offices. We have gathered feedback from students and staff across the campus and the information we have collated is being used to help determine what solutions can be implemented. To further develop our knowledge of what single-use plastic the university uses, we are also working with the catering service and purchasing department. We have already begun to collaborate with some labs and services on reducing single-use plastic including plastic audits in offices, reducing water bottles at careers fairs and spreading best practice in labs.

Any comments or ideas please let me know by emailing d.burt@leeds.ac.uk

Chloe

My name is Chloe, and I am looking at the biodiversity of the university residences as part of my student sustainability architect project. This has involved me walking around surveying each of the halls of residence, particularly the larger ones like Lupton and Devonshire Halls. I have been identifying the different plant species and their distribution and categorising them in order to input the data on the University’s Biodiversity Tool. This calculates a biodiversity value for each of the sites, so if any improvements are made or the site undergoes development, it can ensure that the biodiversity is either maintained or improved by comparing the values. An example of this is the areas around Lyddon and Charles Morris Halls, which I surveyed in November, and will re-survey once the current landscaping works are complete, in order to quantify the improvements.

Next, I hope to create a Biodiversity Action Plan for each of the sites, in order to work out what can be done to maximise the benefit the plants will have on other species and on staff and students.

Sophie

I’m the Student Sustainability Architect working on the Living Lab this year. I identified key areas to be targeted in order to encourage greater engagement with and participation in Living Labs projects across the University, including the website, the curriculum, the Student Sustainability Conference and producing video content. There have been some really exciting Living Lab projects with a wide range of students and staff involved. I want to highlight these projects and people further in order to celebrate what has been achieved so far and inspire people with knowledge about the kinds of things possible.

We’re updating the website with a more user-friendly layout as well as producing some new content. I developed some resources (inspired by the University of Edinburgh’s Living Lab “toolkit”) to help with the planning, writing and completion phase of a Living Lab project. I’m also in the process of conducting interviews with students, academic staff and operations/professional staff who’ve been involved with the Living Lab and these are forming the basis of case studies. It’s been really interesting gaining such in-depth and personal insights; for instance, I spoke to Dr Chris Hassall (School of Biology) about his work developing the Roger Stevens pond, which was fascinating! My work on the curriculum was largely focused on module mapping in order to identify which ones constituted Living Lab modules and to highlight those that have potential through work placements or research projects. The next step is to develop some engaging video content that can be used on the website and at events!

#ArchitectsofPossibility