OxPA Annual General Meeting
October 21 2013

Transport Policy at Oxford Brookes University

Speaker: Sebastian Blake

Following the business meeting, guest speaker Sebastian Blake spoke about Transport Policy at Oxford Brookes University. 

From a background in environmental science and waste, Sebastian is now Sustainability Officer with an interest in transport, implementing Brookes University’s Green Travel plans.  Brookes has challenges different from those facing Oxford University, where carbon emissions from ancient buildings are the main problem. At Brookes two thirds of emissions are from transport, owing to widely scattered sites and a different pattern of student body (more mature students, for example, and many working part-time in the community).

Attempts to reduce car use include parking restricted to those living more than 5Km from campus and more than 1Km from a bus route, and a levy of 0.6% of salary for parking. Students in hall residences are not allowed to own a car but there is no ban on those in private accommodation. Around 48% of staff and 16% of students commute by car.

Positive incentives to limit car use include free bus passes on Brookes buses (also usable on city buses), student guides for freshers at bus stops, free umbrellas for foreign students, water bottles, walking/cycling maps, coat hooks on loo doors to facilitate changing, use of Headington Oxenbikes, car club (Hertz) on campus, and a “bike doctor” on site used by 500 students and staff. The Cycling Forum attracts 400, but walking is more difficult to incentivise than cycling and currently only 12% of staff and 30% of students walk into University.

Discussion on why more staff and students do not walk and possible incentives to increase walking rates included the following points:- 

  • need to emphasise the physical and mental health benefits of walking.
  • walking saves money.
  • the need to improve infrastructure for both walking and cycling; European students are shocked by Oxford’s poor provision. 
  • better-sited pedestrian crossings are needed. 
  • special efforts to reach foreign students from different cultures are required.