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Why Recent Bike Theft Shouldn't Put Students Off Cycling

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Over the next 20 to 30 years, the Government aims to increase cycling and walking, especially for short journeys, in order to reduce pollution and increase general health. ‘On average, 2kg of carbon are saved for every short journey that is made using a bike instead of a car.’ So what better way to save this waste carbon than walking or cycling to and from University? 

Southampton University’s Student Union’s (SUSU’s) newly appointed Environmental and Ethical Officer, Joshua Davies said that, ‘cycling is a great way to keep healthy, it reduces impact on the environment, and the endorphins it produces has even  been proven to keep you happy.’ For students, this means, less stress, burning off that extra McDonalds, and contributing to a greener environment. 

Cycling is usually quicker than driving over short distances too, as it avoids traffic, traffic lights, and there are often short cuts. So, there is no need to get up any earlier for lectures. Another of the most attractive features of cycling for students, instead of driving is price. With the average price of petrol per litre rising to 133p, and the price of running a bicycle being far lower than that of a car, students can save up to hundreds of pounds a year. So what prevents so many students from walking or cycling to and from University? 

After asking a number of students what puts them off cycling, there were two prominent problems, busy roads, and bike theft. Abbie Collard, a first year English student said, ‘I hate cycling on busy roads, not only do I think it’s dangerous, but I always feel bad holding up the traffic behind me.’ 

Over the last few years, however, the University of Southampton has developed the Bike User Network (BUN), which is an informal network of people at the University, working to promote cycling. It has devised some useful cycle routes from halls, houses, and around the city to bypass the traffic, and with an increasing number of cycle lanes, it has made it safer and easier for cyclists. More information on cycle routes can be found at http://www.soton.ac.uk/transport/travellingbybike/travellingbybike.html

Bike theft has always been a major concern at Universities, and of course, an increasing number of bikes, brings with it, the possibility of an increasing number of bike thefts. James Chalk, a first year History student expressed his concern. ‘One of my friends had his bike stolen in the first week of term. Then, last month I received an e-mail from the Humanities Department saying that bike thieves were caught at Avenue campus, so I wouldn’t want to risk having my bike stolen.’ 

However, by following simple tips on how, where, and with what to lock your bike, it is easy to avoid theft. For example, lock your bike through the frame, securing removable parts and to an immovable object. Park it in a well-lit area, on the bike stands, or for extra security, the University provides cycle cages. These cost only £10 for the year, and are accessed by either key or smartcard. Further information about avoiding bike theft can be found at http://www.soton.ac.uk/transport/img/SteerClearofCycleTheft.pdf, and if you wish to rent a cycle cage, you need to go to the Uni-link office. 

So do your part for the environment, keep fit whilst saving money, and don’t let laziness be your only excuse not to cycle or walk to University.

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