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A former Bournemouth University student recounts his cycling to Uni days

Hi, my name is Alex, I’m a fitness enthusiast and enjoy going to the gym, cycling and football. I’m a former Bournemouth University student and now live in Southampton.

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I’m a former Bournemouth University student and now live in Southampton. I used to cycle to many of my lectures as it’s my preferred way of travelling. Being students, we didn’t have lots of spare cash and it was a cheaper, more environmentally friendly option compared to driving. This was a view shared by lots of people not only on my course, but also in my shared student digs. Occasionally, my housemates and I would cycle in together if our timetables aligned and it felt great to get some fresh air and exercise together during the morning. I’d feel more alert and ready to learn after cycling in.

However, I was always very anxious about cycling during people’s morning commute or the afternoon rush hour, mainly because I felt that safety on the road for cyclists was a major issue. Cars would often speed past not considering cyclists or just drive far too close to us. It wasn’t until lockdown, when it was a lot quieter, that I realised how much it affected my cycling confidence. There was one time in particular which sticks in my memory. I was cycling over Glenferness Avenue bridge and a lorry almost clipped me, causing me to scrape along the parapet wall. It’s narrow on the bridge anyway and that incident really deterred me from using that route again.

Having lived in Southampton for over two years now, I regularly take advantage of the separated cycleways that have been built here. I can get around the city comfortably using the network of inter-connected cycle routes and it’s great to see that Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole, Wimborne and Ferndown are now following suit!

I would have loved to have all the new infrastructure around Bournemouth and Ferndown back when I was studying - especially the work being done at Wallisdown and the bridge improvements planned at Glenferness Avenue…! I’m regularly back in Bournemouth to visit my uni friends, so I’m looking forward to checking these out once they’re finished. Those locations in particular would have made my commute as a student so much safer and more enjoyable during those busy periods.

I hope these new cycle lanes and improvements to sustainable travel will encourage more students and residents to cycle, walk, wheel or scoot more. Safety was a huge deterrent in the past for people my age, but it’s great to see these issues finally being addressed. Active travel has so many mental and physical benefits, not to mention the money that can be saved on fuel/parking in this cost-of-living crisis. I think the Transforming Travel team are doing excellent work and I can’t wait to see it all come together. Even if people do just one less car journey a week in favour of using the new infrastructure, that’s a great start. Who knows, they might just catch the cycling bug!


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