As we write our end of financial year reports, Lara reflects on the sustainable transport achievements of the past year. We thought we would publish her thoughts to give you an idea of what goes on in the life of a Transition project worker. Thank you to all of the volunteers and partners that made these achievements a reality, we couldn’t do it without you!
Here is what she had to say…
April 2017 to March 2018 has been a busy year for sustainable transport. We started the financial year with a ‘bang’! Firstly, after devising the University’s first Cycling Strategy in March 2017, we were awarded ‘Cycle Friendly Campus with Distinction’ from Cycling Scotland! This was celebrated in a ceremony with the Students Association President and the Proctor, among others. This award places us in a handful of Scottish institutions who have also been awarded this accolade.
In April we created the website and social media pages for our new sustainable travel initiative ‘Go St Andrews’. This was the first of its kind in St Andrews. We shot a launch video, we placed adverts on buses, handed out tote bags and ran digital and face-to-face campaigns. It was great to be able to point people to a central information hub on sustainable transport initiatives in and around St Andrews. Please do check it out at www.gostandrews.org if you haven’t already.
We held seven Bike to Work Breakfasts this year, helping to foster a greater community atmosphere amongst cyclists in St Andrews. We have had a lot of positive feedback from this initiative saying how much cyclists enjoyed the regular breakfasts and how it was helping to create links between fellow cyclists across the town. One person mentioned how much they enjoyed being able to recognise others on the cycle path! We hope to hold more of these breakfasts in the new (financial) year.
We created a new, easy-to-use digital database for our Bike Pool loan bikes. This allowed us to view and track our assets with a lot more ease. We increased our loan scheme to over 100 bikes and have brought in approximately £3,000 net. This money will be reinvested into the scheme, helping to maintain and grow our bicycle loans, and shield us from potential future funding reductions. We also had another very successful year for our Bike Pool maintenance sessions – with over 550 bikes fixed.
We wrote grants bringing in £15,000 for improving cycling infrastructure at the University’s Gateway Building, and £40,000 from SESTrans to launch an E-Bike scheme across campus. We also secured £40,000 from Smarter Choices Smarter Places to fund a Sustainable Travel worker and related behaviour change projects for the next financial year. Transition also secured two years of £12,000 funding (£24,000) to continue its Bike Pool projects from the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF).
We have also had a very successful bike light campaign. The cheeky, student-oriented campaign, in collaboration with the Students Association and the Scottish Constabulary, changed correct, dual bike like usage from 59% in October 2016 to 83% in March 2018. This led to improved relations with the local community and police.
This year we engaged with over 3,000 students, staff and townspeople about sustainable transport face-to-face at over 100 events. We also presented our work, and ran workshops at events across Scotland including, but not restricted to: the EAUC Annual Scottish Conference and Topic Support Networks, Fife Climate Action Network, the SCSP Conference at COSLA, and many more. We fostered over 400 volunteering occasions totalling 1350 volunteer hours.
Lara was awarded the Judges Commendation Prize for the ‘Most Enterprising Green Graduate’ 2017 at the Environmental Placement Programme Awards ceremony in the Scottish Parliament.
We have been working at the strategic level, writing the University’s new travel strategy for 2018-2028. The full draft has now been completed, we now need input into the vision and the action plan from key decision makers. We have also taken a more strategic approach to managing our electric vehicles, forming a working group of interested parties. If you would like to get involved on the EV working group, please do get in touch.
We have supervised one paid and five volunteer interns working on transport-related content on topics ranging from report writing, strategy, surveying and promotions. We have trained 22 volunteers in basic and advanced bicycle maintenance, 4 in Velotech Silver, 1 in Velotech Gold, 16 adults in Cycling Scotland’s Essential Cycling Skills (aka Cycle with Confidence), we taught 1 adult to cycle from the beginning, took 10 people on led rides across St Andrews and out to Tentsmuir Forest and we are about to train 8 people for the Cycling Scotland Cycle Trainer Assistant course at the end of March.
What a busy year! Thank you again to all of our volunteers and partners, we really could not do it without you.
I am now leaving my post as Sustainable Transport Officer and am off to the Netherlands, the ‘real’ home of the bike! I would like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement during my role, and will miss the wonderful people in this wee toun of St Andrews. I wish all the very best to everyone, and give every encouragement on your sustainability journey, whatever that might be.
Lara and the Transition team x