The vision of University of Limerick Smarter Travel is to create a more liveable and lovable campus through the development and promotion of sustainable means of travel. This vision creates an attractive image with a range of positive benefits for sustainable travel such as walking, cycling, car-sharing and taking the bus. University of Limerick Smarter Travel (ULST) is a subproject of Limerick Smarter Travel which is a Department of Transport and European Regional Development Fund sponsored project. Leveraging on good work carried out by the Buildings & Estates Department over the last few years and with part-funding from Limerick Smarter Travel, the University is investing in smarter travel initiates for students and staff until 2016. Indeed, President Don Barry has signed a charter committing the University to implement a range of measures that will foster a strong culture of sustainable travel.
Many staff and students were introduced to ULST during the Feasibility Study and Strategy Development stages of the project, and now Ross Higgins, as ULST Coordinator, and Sean Collins, as ULST Deputy Coordinator, are tasked with implementing the smarter travel strategy which involves the rolling out of a range of infrastructural designs and smarter travel promotions aimed at, not only removing barriers, but, serving to actively encourage alternatives to single-occupancy car use.
New shared pedestrian / cycling paths have been designed that will make the University more navigable. Feedback from staff and students through surveys, community engagement events and focus groups, suggests a consensus for the requirement of secure bike parking. This has led the design for such facilities, some of which are expected to comprise bike stands housed in swipecard accessed enclosures. These facilities will be positioned in locations of high demand such as adjacent to the Students’ Union Courtyard and the Foundation Building. Designs are also being drawn up for new shower facilities which are proposed to be installed in some campus-central buildings.
The second role of the ULST team is to improve perceptions and awareness about the positive effects of sustainable travel physically, mentally, socially, financially and environmentally. Building on good work completed in 2013 with initiatives such as the development of the University of Limerick Journey Planner, 2014 have also started positively with a successful Week 1 event where smarter travel information, free bike mechanic services and freebies were given out to engaged staff and students from the smarter travel tent in the Main Plaza. A sense of a bike culture is being created on campus led primarily by the Tuesday offerings of the Bike Doctor, offering free basic bike repairs. Many other promotional events and activities, such as the Marchathon Student Walking Challenge, Green Week, Safety Week and the Smarter Travel Change Lanes Challenge, all aim to encourage sustainable travel. Staff and students are informed of such events through email and others through the Limerick Smarter Travel Facebook and Twitter pages.
ULST welcomes comments and queries to SmarterTravel@ul.ie.
By Sean Collins