5 top tips to get campuses on the move

18 April 2019    

Study or work at a college or university and want to see more cycling on campus? Read on...

Our Cycle Friendly Campus programme places Campus Cycling Officers in universities and colleges across Scotland to get more staff and students cycling. We asked Jen Murray, Officer at Edinburgh College to interview five of her colleagues working in University of Aberdeen, Queen Margaret University, Forth Valley College, Glasgow City College and Edinburgh Napier University to share their advice, ideas and inspiration to get more people on their bikes.

1. Be inclusive (Rona MacNicol, Glasgow City College)

“My tip is to be inclusive. As cycling advocates and campaigners, we are often surrounded by like-minded people and it’s easy to lose sight of the diversity of experience, ability, and situation that exists in the world around us. We have so much work to do in order to get more people travelling actively – for our bodies, for our minds, and for the planet – and this is best achieved by acting together. 

There are lots of groups who don’t have easy access to cycling. Our job is not to berate them for cycling or express the benefits of cycling as though it’s a no-brainer – it might be for us as Campus Cycling Officers, but it’s really vital to acknowledge that this isn’t the case for everyone. We must find ways that we can widen access to cycling so that the barriers experienced by many are reduced, and that everyone feels supported and included in their journey to becoming a person who cycles”.

2. Hold an event (Carola Böttcher, Edinburgh Napier University)

“My top tip is to hold an event. Events are great ways of gathering cyclists and building a community. The best thing about events are witnessing these human connections being made. People exchanging their cycle stories, advising each other and just reconfirming what a great thing cycling is to each other.

I've found it useful to gather emails at any events to help promote the next one. Gather emails at fresher’s fair and you already have a list of interested people. Think about any other aspects you can rope in: if you’re doing Doctor Bike, can the police come along and do security marking? Are there any related student association groups that might want to promote themselves at the same time? Advertise over as many platforms as you can: social media, posters, hang stuff on bikes, get creative. For a friendly atmosphere why not throw in some food and some music  and don't worry if there are lots of people: queues are a great place for people to meet and make new friends (I once overheard a chat-up in a bike queue at one of our events, with a date arranged while they were still waiting!)”

3. Borrow an e-bike (Jodie Hutton, Forth Valley College)

“My top tip would be to get hold of some e-Bikes for your campus, whether that’s buying some or, as I’ve done at Forth Valley College, borrow some from the Falkirk Active Travel Hub. These have allowed me to take staff and students who are not confident on a bike out on led rides. Some staff members had not been on a bike in over 20 years but absolutely loved using the e-Bikes and have expressed an interest in coming along on more e-Bike rides. We have even had some members of staff go out and buy their own e-Bikes!! They are a great way to get both staff and students out on a bike and be active!”


4. Organise group rides (Kevin Mathew, University of Aberdeen)

“My top tip is to go out on some social rides to get comfortable with the road, traffic and routes. Group rides have a way of changing how you cycle. It brings together the knowledge, experience and confidence of the best riders, in your city, in one space for 2-3 hours. Use their know-how to navigate traffic, rely on them to take you on cool and exciting routes and share information on the blindspots on buses, trucks and lorries.

Group rides are a social space. Many groups have a no-drop rule, this means they go at the pace of their slowest rider. I am sure I've made group rides sound like the holy grail of social cycling, and honestly, I think they are. There is nothing like being surrounded by your friends, and soon-to-be friends, heading out on an adventure into the great unknown”.


5. Normalise cycling (Mathew Charnley, Queen Margaret University)

"My top tip is to normalise cycling and make it part of everyday life: “not all heroes wear capes: not all cyclists wear lycra”. Cycling is a great way to move around cities – it’s free, it’s fast, it improves your physical and mental health and the health of others. You’ll be rewarded with tonnes of free time since you no longer need to burn calories at the gym as well as more pennies in your pocket: no petrol, no expensive insurance, no parking permit required."


We are currently accepting applicatons for Campus Cycling Officers at 10 universities and colleges across the country - find out more here