It’s eco-friendly, cost-efficient and politically radical; for students, cycling to university seems like the perfect choice. Full-time students are more likely to cycle their commute three times a week or more than workers of any kind, yet still only 8.7% of students use a bike for their commute in the UK. If you’re part of ninety-something percent, here’s why you should consider joining the cycling movement.
For the money conscious student, the economy of cycling to university is a huge tick in its favour. Public transport is only getting more expensive, particularly in larger cities and those places which are generally more expensive to live in. Students in Brighton must pay a huge £412 for a year’s full bus pass, whilst Norwich students are asked for £225 for a year of bus travel. Even the 16-25 rail card, which gives a third off train travel for students of all ages, costs £30 on top of ticket prices.
Alternatively, a second-hand bike suitable for simply commuting to university can be picked up for around £50 in most cities. Even necessary add-ons like a cycle helmet, lock, bike lights or hi-vis can be found very cheaply, and the smaller safety items are even given out for free by some councils and universities. Better yet, cycling is often much more reliable – and thus quicker - than public transport too. No more waiting for delayed trains or buses that are too full, just work out how long it takes you to cycle to your campus and get there on your own terms.
The lifestyle benefits of cycling are a huge bonus too. If you’re anxious about exercise, it’s a free form of fitness that fits easily into your life – you don’t have to schedule in time to go to the gym when your journey to your seminar is your workout instead. It’ll get you out of the house and enjoying your environment in a way that other transport simply can’t. Plus, if you’re worried about the safety of cycling, its not as frightening as it might seem as an outsider. As you cycle more frequently your confidence on the roads will grow, and most cities are smattered with cycle paths – of differing standards… - anyway. Even intimidating cities like London now have cycle friendly areas, and the routes between universities and areas of popular student accommodation are often some of the best in the area. The more people who cycle, the better the infrastructure for cyclists will become.
Cycling fits into the politics of much of student culture too. Not only is it green, but the idea of being self-sufficient through using second-hand bikes and DIY repairs is also appealing to many. There are many sustainable cycling schemes across the country and as a student its even easier to get involved with these, with many universities running student-led cycle share schemes or providing facilities for students to fix their own bikes. Even if you don’t think you’re very good with a tool kit, DIY bike fixing groups will talk you through your repairs and often provide used parts and tools that are much cheaper than visiting a conventional bike repairer. Choosing to cycle rather than use other means of transport can also be a great way to take a stand against the high cost of buses or trains, as well as encouraging cities to prioritise facilities for pedestrians and cyclists as opposed to congesting cars. When you hop on your bike you aren’t just getting to your destination, you’re making a political point too.
University is the perfect time to pick up a bike and pedal your way to university, if you’re able to. Save yourself money, keep yourself healthy and promote a sustainable lifestyle – all simply by cycling to your campus.