Sharing knowledge for better transport

Adam Bows, Sustainable Transport Manager.


"Near the end of May we received a visit from our counterparts in the Cambridge Environmental Sustainability team - just the latest example of the work we’re doing to share knowledge with other universities to help us all overcome the challenges we have in common.

Oxford and Cambridge are obviously very different places, but we face similar issues in making our universities more sustainable – from cutting carbon emissions while our estates keep growing to de-carbonising our cities’ transport networks.

As Sustainable Transport Manager that’s one of my key responsibilities, so there’s a lot to be gained by sharing knowledge with our counterparts at Cambridge. When the whole Environmental Sustainability team from Cambridge paid us a visit recently, we started out with a group discussion and then broke up into individual teams to talk in more detail.


Adam Bows and team posing for photo on bikes

My team decided to take our opposite numbers on a cycle tour of Oxford to see some of the issues and difficulties we face and talk about the history and future of sustainable transport in Oxford – you can see a photo of all of us above.

We started out by taking them to the ROQ to talk about how freight deliveries are consolidated and how only operational and disabled parking is available on-site. Next stop was the Science Area where we explained how our parking charges (pegged to the cost of the Park & Ride and clear criteria based on need) are reducing traffic in the city centre by discouraging staff from commuting by car, while still ensuring that disabled staff and those with family caring commitments can park when they need to.

We also discussed high density double-stacking cycle parking in the Science Area at 2 South Parks Road, and explained how the new parking strategy in the Central Area would enable much-needed landscaping improvements by freeing up space formerly occupied by car parking. We enjoyed a brief exploration of the recently-upgraded cycle Marston Meadows cycle path and then finished the trip with a look at the pedestrian- and cycle-friendly raised table installed at the Broad Street/Parks Road junction. This last item was made possible by funding collaboration and innovative thinking between the University and the City and County Councils.

In some areas Cambridge are probably in the lead and we can learn from their experiences, and in others they are very interested in learning from us – for example, we have gone further in reducing staff parking in the city centre and generating income from parking charges, which has financed the Green Travel Fund. This is ring-fenced to ensure we can invest in much-needed sustainable transport-related projects.

It’s great to get a new perspective on our work, and over the next few months we’re planning to meet again to talk in more depth about the topics above, and about others like how we collect data on people’s travel habits."